Friday, October 14, 2005

God is not willing that any should perish

One of my firmest theological convictions is that a perfectly good God would do everything possible to enable people to be saved. A God who, before the foundation of the world, determines that some will suffer everlasting punishment, simply because this would be to his own greater glory (why would it be to his own greater glory anyway?) is as God whose motivations I absolutely do not understand. It isn't just that there is something mysterious here, it is that this kind of conduct is completely opposed to any ethical values that come from God's own commandments. God expects people to care deeply about the salvation of the people of the world, yet God could save a lot of people but just decides not to? Imagine the tortures of the Nazis extended through all of eternity. To say that this kind of torment will go on not because the damned make choices that make it impossible for God to save them, but rather simply because God has chosen this fate for them, is to attribute to God characterstics that, to my mind, conflict utterly and totally with the character of God revealed in Christ. The Bible does not say "For God so loved the elect, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life." And so when I read "God is not willing that any should perish" in II Peter 3:9, I take it to mean that, quite literally, God does not want anyone going to hell. Period, end of story. God said it, I believe it, that settles it.

But Scripture also seems to indicate that the way people come to be saved is by being evangelized. They come to salvation by hearing the Good News of Christ and believing. And if this is how God saves people, then it seems that an Omnipotent being is, in the face of things, slacking on the job of bringing people into his Kingdom. I know that there is a lot of evangelism going on. But if we make the assumption that the people who die without accepting the evangelistic message have been lost, while those who have accepted it have been saved, we reach some distrubing conclusions. If Satan wants everyone to be lost, and God wants everyone to be saved, then Satan is winning the numbers game. This two-bit fallen angel (everyone is two-bit compared to the Almighty) is getting more people into his kingdom that the Omnipotent one is getting into his. And this can get really upsetting for Evangelicals who have to bury their unconverted loved ones, since the most obvious conclusion they have to draw is that the person who has died has gone to hell.

It is here that some kind of second chance after death seems like an appealing idea, an idea fictionalized (but not actually endorsed) in Lewis's The Great Divorce. People can escape hell if they are willing to give up their greatest sins. But I think maybe you can accept the underlying idea here without actually having to believe that there is a real second chance after death. We assume that time works for people who are dying in the same way it works for the rest of us, so if one minute has elapsed when a person has passed into eternity, then presumably that one minute would not be long enough for God to do anything in that person's soul. But do reports of near death experiences, for example, support this idea of simultaneity? Could God pack years of evangelism into those final seconds, and offer everyone a chance to be saved, if only they will give up their most precious sins, while the person is still alive? If this were so, this would reconcile "Salvation only through Christ," "No second chance after death," and "God is not willing that any should perish."

All I want to say is that the possibilities that occur to us humans from our own limited perspective probably do not exhaust all of God's options.

68 comments:

Kyle said...

I'm with you all the way on this one... right up until I read the verses in scripture which seem to support some form of predestination. Then I get stuck in a paradox.

You got any solutions to that paradox beyond the sickly little, "God, looking through eternity, foresaw and endorsed those who would be saved"?

Steven Carr said...

'But do reports of near death experiences, for example, support this idea of simultaneity? Could God pack years of evangelism into those final seconds, and offer everyone a chance to be saved, if only they will give up their most precious sins, while the person is still alive?'

Hi Victor,
I imagine dying is not a pleasant experience. It seems to often involve a lot of pain and anguish.

I'm not too sure that I would want the time element of that process to be dilated.

Aren't some people unconsious as they lay a-dying? Can you be unconsious and still have a conscious soul ready to accept salvation? Perhaps my soul has already accepted salvation without me being conscious of it.

Give me Calvin or give me death! said...

Let's get things straight.

Firstly, Calvinists do believe that God does do everything possible to save people. It's simply that universal salvation cannot take place without it compromising some greater good. (And the free-will defense, take note, is simply an extension of this idea.)

And you seem to realise this and suggest God's glory as a possible Calvinistic candidate for such a good.

Then you reject such a suggestion, however, since, you say, it isn't moral, and that consequently, given the essential goodness of God, it isn't something he would bring about.

But what aspect of it makes you smart, exactly? That God, before the creation of the world, decided that some weren't to be saved?

If that's all, then I don't think that Arminianism is much better off. For, on this idea, instead of God simply electing some for torment (pace Calvin), he piously decides to create creatures he foreknows will freely refuse salvation! Talk about "all laud and render"!

And so no, the Bible doesn't say "for God so loved the elect." True. Nor does it say "for God so loved those he foreknew would would freely choose him." For God to die for those he knows have no hope of ever getting him - isn't that just the height of folly? It does seem silly. So it looks like we're both going to have to refuse to take the verse at face value.

Neither does God want people to perish - true again. I too take 2 Peter quite literally. But, of course, it doesn't follow that a state of affairs desired by God is a state of affairs which it is metaphysicaly possible for him to actualise. In this case, I'd say it quite obviously isn't. And you would agree.

And I think you should be very careful about theories that state that God ensures that everyone gets some evangelical blast at some point. For if he did that, so the old objection goes, what would be the point in evangelising?

Jason said...

It would take me a very _VERY_ long discussion (even by _my_ standards {g!}) to explain why I believe what I do on this (vast gobloads of Scriptural exegesis, metaphysical analysis, etc.); but basically my position is the same as MacDonald's: the ultimate gist of scriptural teaching, is that God is committed to saving everyone from sin, and will keep on trying forever, with good hope that He will succeed. After which the only question is whether (putting it a bit colorfully) I decide to bet on God or on the sinners. (hm, let's see... {s})

Plus, as Lewis once put it (in reference to the judgment of the sheep and the goats): there _will_ be surprises. {g!}


But, fwiw, I'll make some short (for me) comments.


The verse set Victor probably has most in mind (among others), when he talks about how evangelism seems absolutely necessary for salvation, is Rom 10:9-17 (perhaps with pickups from v8 and extending through the end of the chapter).

The larger contexts, in my estimate though (taking all of the first half of Romans into account, including St. Paul's discourse leading up to this), indicate that Paul is trying to reassure his readers/listeners that _Christ Himself_ is and remains the chief evangelist.

In this judgment, I find an interesting convergence between v 15b (quoting Isaiah 52:7) and what rabbis were teaching (and continued to teach for a long time) regarding that OT verse: that it referred not only to those who announce the coming of the Messiah, but even more importantly _to the Messiah himself_ once he arrives. (Though my conclusion here isn't based necessarily on that. It's just an interesting dovetailing.)

Paul, of course, was a Pharisee rabbi tutored under Gamaliel I; so he would know the contexts and expect his Jewish audience, at least, to be familiar with them. Same goes, in an even more interesting way, for a common tradition about the Pharaoh, in regard to Paul's use of him as an example back in 9:17 -- some rabbis taught that he survived the chariot disaster, made a final repentence to God, and went on to become the king of Ninevah, which is why that city was ready to repent when Jonah arrived there later! (Compare with vv15-16 leading into 17: "For He says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.' So then [Paul continues], it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God Who has _mercy_.")

Paul's point doesn't depend on whether Rameses II (or his son, if he was who was leading the chariot pursuit, which is far more likely) ever _did_ become king of Ninevah (of course neither did). But it's a case where knowing larger contexts can help uncover and reveal whole textures of meaning.

(In this case, Rom chp 9 does _NOT_ in fact mean what almost everyone presents it as being a witness to. Which again I don't necessarily have to use the cultural context for, but in this case it helps a lot more than in Rom 10... {s!})


Lewis _does_ basically endorse the notion of a second chance after death in _The Great Divorce_; since he shows people being given chances to repent and enter heaven, and the sanctified GMcD confirms to Lewis that this sometimes does succeed (i.e. the opportunities are legitimate and truly hopeful on the part of God and the saints).

Lewis, who seems to have held onto a doctrine of final perdition for at least some people (though also believing this represents the best good those people will allow God to give them anymore), was hugely influenced for his theology by GMcD--far moreso than the biographies typically recognize. TGD was his salute to McD and a way of trying to reconcile his understandings of perdition with McD's position; they're pretty close. The only significant difference is that, while both believed God never gives up actively giving love to sinners, McD believed this also meant that God never gives up trying to save them, either. (On this, as I've said, I have to go with McD.)


I noticed a couple of mentions of people giving up their greatest or most precious sins. That certainly has to be done, and on the face of it I'd expect it to be the hardest to do (certainly it is for _me_! {s!}) But if I say this, I also have to watch out not to be entailing that God will rest with me holding onto some little sin over here that I don't think much about, basically being worthless to me.

_All_ my sin has to go; God will have me completely clean. (I seriously doubt you meant anything otherwise, of course. {g} Just wanted to head off a potential misunderstanding.)

Jason

Jason said...

Kyle: in this, Lewis (reporting Boetius) was very helpful for me; the answer (though spelled out a bit imperfectly, as Lewis himself recognized) can be found in his second appendix to _Miracles_ (and is also mentioned somewhere in _Screwtape Letters_, though I don't recall where offhand.)

Basically, the important principle to keep in mind is that God acts at right angles to natural time (so to speak). He doesn't foresee us doing something, in the sense of Him inhabiting an overarching time with us and then looking forward along that line (which almost all sides of the dispute seem to generally imagine--by accident I'm sure, since it's essentially a claim of God being a derivative creature like us, dependent on something higher than Himself!) He _sees_ us doing things here, and here, and there, along the line of our time--a little like the author of a book (though that analogy cannot be pressed very far, because I have to operate within an overarching time sequence to create my books.) And He acts in our system of Nature in a similar fashion.

There isn't any scriptural prooftext of this that I'm aware of (and I'm suspicious of mere prooftexting anyway--even if it happens to be in my favor... {self-critical g}) It's a conclusion drawn from doing the metaphysical math, and it would take me a long time to trace the route leading to it. Sorry. It ought to be obvious that proposing otherwise entails positing a technical heresy, though, if that helps any. (Unless Mormonism is true, perhaps. {wry g})

Jason

Jason said...

Steven: for what it's worth, no I don't think it works like that. Not that it _couldn't_, necessarily (I could easily imagine it being a purgatorial process for me, for instance--not unlike what I've been going through for several years anyway... {s})

You might, strictly speaking, be accepting salvation without recognizing it as such; but it wouldn't be (again strictly speaking) unconscious. (You would be recognizing it as something you and God both think is worth your acceptance of.) In any case, the process would continue through the judgment (which is why in NT Greek, that's often called the crisising). God shares that crisis with us, too; He doesn't simply inflict it from on high. (And that's a very large part of the point to the crucifixion.)

Jason said...

Calvin-or-death ({ahem}... every time I see that, I keep wanting to reply "Give me _Christ_ or death!" {g} No offense intended...):

A lot of good points there, I think!

Now, some hardline Calvinists _do_ insist (perhaps against Calvin, though they would say not) that God pre-elected people for continual hopeless torture; and they do defend this by saying He did it for a greater good, that good being His own glory. (Perhaps also defending it by saying He did this so that others may be saved, taking an interpretation of Rom 9:22-23 for this justification.)

John Piper here is one example (http://www.desiringgod.org/library/topics/doctrines_grace/
sovereign_god_love.html); and he's hardly alone.

But of course, that doesn't mean _you're_ going that route.

I'll add in passing that Talbott's position, being debated against by Piper there, is not really my own; though it's certainly closer to mine than Piper's (to say the least. {s!})


I think you're right, about the Arminian position on pre-election being no better technically than the Calvinist one.

Since John 3:16 says nothing _I_ can see (Greek or otherwise) about predestining at all, then I think any attempt at taking it at face value _wouldn't_ have problems along that line. (The incongruities mentioned, arise from reading one position or the other into the verse's meaning.) Myself, I've always appreciated that the Greek translated (here and elsewhere) 'world' is actually _cosmos_: all created reality. That's a rather nifty scope. {g!}


I think Calvinists (even the hardliners in some points--bless their hearts {g!}) _and_ Arminians each have good points on their side (sometimes in convergence, sometimes against each other). I also think both parties have gone rather off the tracks in some regards, too (sometimes against each other, and sometimes in convergence). Which is why I am neither a Calvinist nor an Arminian. (It might be impossible to classify me, come to think of it... Western Orthodox?? {shrug})

I'll save the big question for last, next post...

Jason said...

He-who-asked-to-be-given-Calvin-or-death {g} asked (in what I think is very good faith, though also a bit rhetorically), one of the most important questions that can be asked on this topic:

"For if [God ensures that everyone gets some evangelical blast at some point], so the old objection goes, what would be the point in evangelising?"


So, here we go, the fire-work finale... {inhale}

The point to evangelizing, even if Christ is the one Who in fact is doing all the necessary work (which I don't think amounts to 'some evangelical blast at some point'--or not in the way you're probably thinking...) ought to be obvious--or else, if *sola Christi* is a problem, then it's still a problem even if we go out and evangelize. (Why _am_ I taking time this morning, and early afternoon, to write all this when I could be editing?? _I_ can't save anyone from their sins--only God!)

The point, is that we're supposed to be co-operating with God, in His work.

He asks us to join Him in the work that He works from the beginning unto the end, and He frankly expects it of us. If we aren't co-operating with God, then are _we_ not setting _our_ faces away from Him?!


Right now, in this day, before the healing of the creation is complete, His work _is_ (among other things) the healing of the creation. Are we going to share in His work, to the extent He calls us (individually and personally) to do? Or not?


Besides this (though it isn't really apart from this), people _deserve_ to know the truth.

How often have I wanted the one whom I love the most, to know how much God loves her, so that she herself can love Him better! I constantly pray God (and praise Him, too), that He will never cease loving her, to the core of her bones and her mind and her soul. Even if I cannot be there for her, _He still is_: still pulling the yoke of His cross for _her_, the beloved of God, the wandering sheep. (Or cat, perhaps, in her case. {s!})

He makes room for _me_--me, the sinner!--at His yoke, and asks me to work with Him in His love for her... will I _not_ do that??

My King--is He _not_ my King? do I not confess Him as such? did I not swear an oath of fealty to Him? did He (in my case) _not_ give me, as a boy, to this one outside the fence, the night her soul was born, a Pentacost after I pledged to Him? Shall I _not_ follow my King, then, in the love He bears for His daughter!?

_God forbid it!_--and damn _me_ if I do not!!


What then shall I do, if from my selfishness and greed I fail...?

Repent, and remember that _He_ shall _not_ fail, _will not_ fail, to continue loving her! He goes on!--will I not follow after?

Perhaps He will allow me to crawl beneath the post He drags behind Him (I am speaking in figures; I know historically the shape was most likely different); if so, I _will_ crawl behind Him, resting the end of that post on my back, so that at least He won't have to drag it--down in the dust, since I am _not_ fit to be standing at His side in the work He does for her--serving my King, serving her.

I will comfort Him in _His_ pain for her--how?--what can I say of her, to Him, that He doesn't already know, infinitely better than I??

I can say: my King, You love her truly... _I_ will truly love her, too.


let us die and live together, giving our lives, our body and blood, for _her_, your beloved daughter, my King...


I love God and I love her. And even if I _didn't_ love her (all of whoever she is, standing for all of creation), I _should_: because Love Himself (on Whom and upon Whose Love I myself completely depend, and always will, even in my rebellions)...

..._Love Himself_ loves _her_, and gives His life for her sake. Just as He does for me. Always, for _ever_.

_That_ is why _I_ evangelize.


('kay, off to crawl through the dust for a while... {s})


Jason

Just Ken said...

I have reprinted Rev. John Haslett Boggs' antipolitical tract, "Our Political Protest. Why Covenanters do not Vote." (1872) on http://classicalliberalism.blogspot.com/. This is a classic expression of the Reformed beliefs on the problems with the U.S. Constitution in particular and secular society in general. From the time of Calvin, John Knox and the Scottish Covenanters, the Reformed tradition has been critical of the foundations of any political agency.

The influence of the Puritan and Reformed principles was a cause of the American Revolution. During the constitutional debates in the U.S., there were certainly strong reasons why they were held in secret. At that time, the Reformed churches were far more influential throughout the American Confederation than in 1872 when this tract was originally printed, and were the constitution publicly debated at the time of its inception, it is doubtful that the framers would have been successful. Many of the reasons can be found in the arguments expressed in "Our Political Protest. Why Covenanters do not Vote."

hashishan prophet said...

Victor (so-called: thou hast lost)

This IS the LORD thy GOD - YHWH SARA Indivisible, Creator of Heaven, Earth, and all the Stars, forger in secret of the grueling RACKS of HELL (IN SOUTH OR SKYWARDS IN LMC AND SMC):::

THIS doctrine is false -- there is no salvation -- I HAVE CHOSEN AN ELECT FLOWERING OF MEN and WOMEN

THESE are those that believe on ME YWHW SARA (HASHISHAN PROPHETIC) and Not on the FAKE, FALSE, FRAUDULENT, PHALLICK, and FICTITIOUS "JEsus CHrist", who is NOT Christ bu the Monkey-Christ, condemned OF GOD for his trangressions and sins -- I AM HIS MOTHER, MARIA, now known as SARA the GOD, born in NAUVOO, REDEEMED through ANGELIC MINISTRATION, in contact with HIGHER POWERS in CASSIOPIA and ELSEWHERE -- returned to REDEEM mankind through my EU-ANGELION (tat tvam asi) -- this is my word.

I AM THAT GOD KNOWN OF CALVIN -- PREDESTINATOR AND CREATOR. I HAVE chosen FEW out of all the raise to for love - - and all the rest must come to me through PRAYER and DEEDS

HE THAT trangresses my KINGDOM shall be punished through eternal death + torture, excruciating pains & humiliations inflicted for lack of FAITH & CHARITY. I AM THE ALL-IN-ALL: I read all minds and hearts, and I knoew which to pluck asunder and destroy and which to raie to heighted sexual comforts with me in the garden which is endowed with lovely fragrane in PERSUES who is MITHRAS or my elder son the TRUE messiah who I have anointed but have now bypassed in favor of AARON my true darling, blessed among delicates.

YOU VICTOR can only have VICTORY by love and redemption through ME SARA YHWH the ONE GOD and FRIEND to all mankind.

GO in peace for now, but remember to bless thyself through faith before 2012 after which there will be no choice but LMC prison and dismemberments and grotesqueries --- 2012 I have apointed the REDEMPTION year or APOCALYPSE and will usher in new KINGDOM at that point.

You are ever under the EYE of SARA YHWH.

Jason said...

{chuckle} Now, I would have thought that _I_ would be the one getting the notice from {cough} Sara. Oh, well... (see, guys, it could be worse. I could be doing _that_.)

Makes an interesting analytical contrast, hm? When _I_ go into mysticism mode, the force of the imagery is superficially similar, but the spirit is completely different. (And y'all can be sure that _I'm_ not being satirical. {s})

And so serious discussion/commentary on the topic endeth... {sigh}

Mr Consolation said...

Buck up Jason! There will be better, brighter days. I am sure of it.

Steven Carr said...

Does God really desire all to be saved?

Joshua 11:20 For it was the LORD himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the LORD had commanded Moses.

If you intend to save people, why harden their hearts and then exterminate them without mercy?

Give me Christ! (hat tip - Jason) said...

Steven Carr - the closet calvinist.

If you want to make your biblical case for Calvinism stronger Steve, then add these to your arsenal:

Exodus 4:21 [God said] "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharoah all the wonders I have given you to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go."

Exodus 33:19 "I will have mercy upon whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion upon whom I have compassion."

Ex. 33 is directly linked to the issue of God's election (via Paul in Romans 9) as the deliberating factor.

So is Malachi 1:2,3 "Jacob I loved, but Easu I hated."

They evidence Romans 9:18 "Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden."
It is not of man's volition, therefore, that he is saved, but solely of God's.

And if people still claim that God's glory isn't a viable greater good for predestining many to damnation, look at Romans 9: 22-23, where Paul himself suggests it: "What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath - prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory"?

Mike D said...

I wish I could believe election wholeheartedly and act with the evanglical fervor focused on free will. In actuality, I fail at both. I doubt God's sovereignty and do little to speak the gospel in other's lives. God obviously opens people's hearts but he seems to depend on me and others to deliver the message. I don't think I should depend on God doing my job for me. Scripture puts much importance on our choices in this life. I don't think we can count on a second chance.

Victor Reppert said...

Thinking about this sort of thing, a lot seems to depend upon my situation. If I did what I must do to ensure the salvation of others, and, say, the person has died, I think there has to be some comfort in what we don't know about what God might have done with this soul. If I am slothfully asking whether I should put forth a gospel message to someone, the practical context is rather different. If I am considering becoming a Christian but am not sure I can give up the pleasures of sin, the context is different yet again. We are often given messages addressed to our consciences which don't give us any information about how everything will work out in the final analysis. Maybe those people who are silent where the Bible is silent have a point.

Jason said...

{surprised blinking!} So! Serious discussion/commentary on the topic hath _not_ ended!

I thank everyone for continuing, including Steven!--though I also admit I suspect that at times he's only being contentious. But only at times. Mainly I wish he would read me more closely; but I _do_ have long posts, so I guess that's forgiveable... {self-critical g!}


I have nothing to say for Victor's comment this time, other than I'm pretty sure I see God giving him a solid thumb's up. {g!}


Mr. Consolation: Thank you truly! Taken altogether, I suspect I accept that consolation more than anyone else here! (Not that that makes me any greater a person... I am constantly amazed at people who cling to hope holding what amounts to a gospel of hopelessness... _those_ people are probably better than I, showing more faith in more grievous circumstances!)

Nevertheless, the grief I carry is an important counterpoint. I have hope for myself--and _therefore_ reject my sins, which are hopeless, and offend against the source of hope, abusing His grace. But He carries the burden of my grief for me as well. {s}

Again, even though I have and will always have hope (not in myself but in Him) that the one below whom I love the most will not always be (analogically) digging a scalpel through her head and heart (and, do I not do the same myself sometimes, bringing True Love to grieve...?--worse, God knows that _I_ know better!), still I cannot be happy in seeing her do it. Even though she does not feel the pain of doing it, I feel it _for_ her.

But when I feel that pain, I can either choose to affirm or deny, that "All will be well... and all manner of things will be well"--how far will I trust God, against (sometimes more than only) occasional appearances? That's an action on my part, not simply an intellectual belief.

(And _then_, if I choose to trust Him, I had better be also choosing to work along with Him!--or else my faith in Him is worthless. "'I go, Sir!'--yet _not_...")


Anyway; thank you again for your kind words. {s!}

Jason said...

Steven asks (and it's a good question):

"If you intend to save people, why harden their hearts and then exterminate them without mercy?"


Any answer I could give to this, requires taking the whole story into context (and not merely the chapter in Joshua, or even the OT altogether); as well as having already settled numerous other prior points. And I truly am sorry about that.

Since the question is fundamentally rooted in the intentions of God, I can point to the cross--God's own willing sacrifice of Himself _to_ His enemies, _for_ the sake of His enemies. I do not divide the substance (though distinguishing the Persons), so I say you can see the God Who ordered this destruction (if indeed He did order it, and we aren't looking instead at retroactive justification by the people He chose--part of the point of the story is that He didn't choose the best people, but nearly the worst) hanging there by His own volition, trying to show us His intentions toward us, in whatever it is He is doing; trying to help us trust Him. If Jesus _is_ the 2nd Person of God, the Logos, the action of God; then He is Who hardened those people's hearts. And there He is--showing He is suffering with and for them.

The innocent suffer for the sake of the guilty. And that's a hard truth. But it's pretty obvious, too, even outside an acceptance of Christianity. God doesn't spare Himself from that.


As to the hardening of their hearts: when this happens in the story (and it happens to the people of Israel, too, quite frequently--including that chapter of Ezekiel you've been fond of quoting from recently, my comments on which you evidently gave up trying to read... {s}), then it happens because the people are insisting on doing something which would bring evil even on their own innocents. They refuse to give that up, so after a time God gives them the blindness they insist on having; and the results they insist on having, too. (Lord knows, it happens to _me_ often enough... {sigh})

It is interesting you quoted that particular verse out of other similar ones you could have quoted in surrounding chapters; because in the verse immediately prior to it, we see that one town _did_ make terms, and were spared. The implication is that they weren't hardening their hearts in their lives and culture, so God didn't give them over to the invading Israelites, stiffening their hearts along the lines they had already been choosing.

(The other point here being to show that the apparently total and hopeless command of God for unremitting destruction, wasn't really what it appears on the face of it to have been--otherwise no peace would have been accepted. Besides which, later in the story these supposedly wiped-out places suddenly have non-Israelites inhabiting them again--in point of fact the 'genocide' is somewhat hyperbolically described, much in keeping with poetic Near Eastern forms. Independent archaeology, where this can be done on such sites, confirms this, too. Not that _this_ obviates any command to fight, I admit, but the results weren't actually as drastic as the story describes.)


As for the people who weren't spared--what were God's intentions toward them? Not to save them, clearly, right?

Well--not to save them from death, obviously. One hardly needs point to (apparent) commands by God to slay enemies, to discover that: sooner or later everyone finishes dying. God allows death to go out to the end in all cases, even encouraging it sometimes. (Nor did He spare Himself from this.)

But then, _I_ have never claimed that God's intends to save anyone (much less everyone) from _death_. I said God intends to save everyone from their _sins_. And I don't believe death is the end of that attempt. (Though obviously most Christians do, at least 'officially'. I suspect unofficially most Christians still have hope--and God bless them for that. {g})


Is it hard? Yes, it's hard. And if I only had the book of Joshua to go by, I might not trust God at all--or only in a heathenish way (the 'Biggest Might Maketh Him Right' sort of way; which, as I think you yourself pointed out, even William Lane Craig adopts the first chance he gets.)


Though even in the scroll of Joshua, I _suspect_ (admittedly I don't recall offhand) that somewhere it gives the basic principle involved in God's harshest actions: He's doing it with an eye toward hope for His enemies, and (ultimately) in love of them.


Still, as I've said before, if you think evil things are being claimed of God by His proponents, then of course you should reject them. Just don't use that as an excuse to blow off your _own_ responsibilities. I've asked _you_ before, though I don't recall you ever replying, what you would have God to do in regard to _you_ and _your_ transgressions.

(The only answer I recall you giving, avoided that altogether, and snapped back over to what you would have God do toward those-enemies-over-there, and perhaps _for_ you and your convenience. You shouldn't be starting with that, or with stories in Joshua either. You should be starting with yourself, and the things you do that even you agree are wrong. In my experience, the principles of theodicy become sufficiently evident pretty quickly that way.)

Jason

Jason said...

Give him Christ! {bow!}{g!}

Since all the verses you referenced are borrowed (one way or another) by St. Paul in Romans chapter 9, then really we may as well stay in Romans for the explication of what lessons we are to draw from them.


As for that chapter, I wrote a bit on it above, in my first comment to Victor; pointing out a context that would have been familiar to Paul and his Jewish audience (at least), which puts a rather different light on that whole section.

Paul is appealing to a rabbinic tradition that continues the story of Pharoah through his repentence, redemption and preparatory witness to Ninevah; since the rabbis could think of no other way to explain why that city of heathens was so prepared to repent at the preaching of Jonah--the most intransigent and least promising of prophets, clearly a man who was running from even the mere possibility of God's _mercy_ to the Ninevites!

It is a further question, of course, whether we should allow this notion to color our interpretation of the passages. {shrug} As I said, I have no need to apply to that tradition (which is manifestly non-historical) to reach that interpretation of the chapter, though. I only need look at Paul's own summation at the end of chapter 11, to understand the intention he was following back in chapter 9:

"For God has shut up _all_ [both Jew and Gentile] into disobedience, _so that He may show mercy to all!_"

A revelation well worth the hymn of praise Paul subsequently erupts into!

By the logic of Paul's extended discourse, 'all' means 'all'--it is the ground upon which he is hoping for the salvation of all Israel, while still grieving for their lack of relationship with God. (...which grief I can fully sympathize with, as may be obvious elsewhere. {s})

But Paul makes explicitly clear that his ground for hoping that all Israel will be redeemed according to the irrevocable calling and gifts of God, includes the same hope for the Gentiles as well. Neither are ultimately excluded, both are included. That means Esau and Pharoah, too. Branches may be broken off so that others may be grafted in; but those grafted in may also be removed again; and branches removed may be grafted in again. Therefore, we are not to be presumptious, but to fear and rejoice in God; Whose ultimate goal is to show mercy to all.


Jason

Jason said...

Mike D writes (very rightly): "I don't think I should depend on God doing my job for me."

{shrug} Well, I depend on Him to save _me_ from my sins, which I cannot do, despite my obligation to repent of them.

But of course, I do not remotely advocate daffing off whatever role God calls for us to work along with Him at. That is to be a lazy and uncharitable servant. (And Jesus told us many times what happens to lazy and uncharitable servants of His!)


He certainly makes room for us to do things with Him, and if we choose not to, then there are consequences, even to other people, from our choices to disobey--because God loves (us) sinners, too. This is also why God will require the blood of the enemies He asked us to help, who died without our help, from _us_.

Still, I don't think it requires a specially robust faith in God (or even merely in His sovereignty!), to trust that God won't hinge the ultimate hopelessness of other people on _our_ failings--even assuming we believe (which I do not) that God does and will act toward ultimate hopelessness.

(Similarly, I certainly don't place my trust in my own repentence!--God knows how often I fail at _that!_ {penitent g!} Though even if I was perfectly successful in my penitence, the moment I put my trust in _that_ instead of in _God_... foom. {s})


Jason

Give me o Kuriov! said...

Jason,

I'm having difficulty buying the Rameses legend. Even if it was so circulated amongst the Jews, Paul is addressing a substantive Gentile audience in his letter: 11:13, "I am talking to you Gentiles", to give one example. If this is so, I don't think they'd appreciate Paul's point much. {g!}

Secondly, I don't see how an appeal to the end of ch. 11 helps. The "all israel" in v. 26 is, I think, most plausibly referring to the total number of the elect, both Jew and Gentile. The "all men" in 32 simply means all groups under discussion (viz. Jew and Gentile). Read it like this: "all types of men" - God has decreed that men of all nations and places should be considred among the elect (which is certainly good news for us!)

Jason said...

GMC (ogmd? {g} Come to think of it, since God seems quite intent on my finishing dying, I do ask for that sometimes, too...)

{{I'm having difficulty buying the Rameses legend. Even if it was so circulated amongst the Jews, Paul is addressing a substantive Gentile audience in his letter: 11:13, "I am talking to you Gentiles", to give one example. If this is so, I don't think they'd appreciate Paul's point much. {g!} }}

You may have also noted that Paul is _also_ addressing a substantive Jewish audience in his letter; and particularly referencing Jewish stories in chapter 9, involving God's relation to notorious Gentiles.

Considering that part of Paul's point elsewhere (especially toward the end of 11) is to emphasize that this congregation needs to get past condemning each other as Jew-and-Gentile, because God sees past such things (while still recognizing obvious differences between them, especially in their histories) to the salvation of _both_ of them through-and-as Christ...

...then would it not be odd for Paul to be saying to the Gentiles in 11 (in effect) 'Now don't puff up yourselves concerning the travails of the Jews and their part in the history of salvation, because God still loves them and intends to save them' (setting aside for the moment the question of how many of 'them'); while back in chapter 9 he's saying something of a completely opposite spirit?--in effect (on the common interpretation), 'So what if God decides to simply choose these Gentiles of our history to _be_ Gentiles, and so hopelessly damned? It happened for the sake of "the Elect" in each of these cases!' (The "elect" being clearly the Jews in each story.)

There are certainly 'Gentiles' of _our_ day and time who don't much appreciate _that_! {g} (Steven being one of them, I expect... {s!})


Chapter 9 is addressed primarily to the Jewish portion of the congregation; 11 primarily _about_ the Jews (in and outside the Church), _to_ the Gentiles (as you've noted). If the Gentiles of this congregation know enough about Pharoah to recognize the reference, odds are at least decent that they've heard the rabbinic legend of Pharoah, too. Whether the Gentiles recognize the further contexts or not, though, the Jews are whom Paul is trying to yank in line here; so he speaks according to what they're familiar with.


Paul's use of such legends to make his point in _principle_, is definitely established elsewhere, in his speech to the Mars Hill forum (the summary of which is recorded in Acts). Only someone familiar with a special story about the Cretan philosopher Epictetus and how he saved the people of Athens from a plague, by helping them appeal to the 'Unknown God' (thus starting the whole tradition described earlier in that chapter, including that upon which the philosophical forum was founded), would recognize Paul's appropriation of that story to help the members of the forum. There's nothing in the text of the report in Acts itself to clue in those of us who are only familiar with Acts; but Paul isn't talking to _us_. He's talking to _them_.

I'll break out comments on your second caveat, since those will be more technical.

Jason

Jason said...

WARNING: the following comment contains a lot of scriptural analysis which will probably be very boring for those not so inclined. {s!} I present it publicly for the sake of anyone interested in the topic, but if your eyes are already glazing over, take that as a sign and move along. It'll only get worse. {g}


Granted, my interpretation of Rom chp 9 hinges a lot (though still not altogether) on what is being claimed in chp 11 v.32; which in turn (as you noted) hinges on what Paul means earlier by 'all Israel'.

Now, it seems sufficiently clear to me that in vv.25-28 (not even counting 29-31, leading into 32, though I could extend the point through that as well), Paul is talking about the _ungodly_ Jews, who have _not_ yet come into the kingdom, and God's intentions toward _them_. Notice, these are _not_ the remnant described at the beginning of chapter 11: they are _not_ the ones analogous to the "seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal".

So, a partial hardening has occurred, until the fullness of the Gentiles have come in. What does it mean in v26, then, that _thus_ all Israel shall be saved?

True, one could suppose that Paul is saying these Gentiles being brought in shall help constitute (along with the saved Jews) the true Israel--certainly Paul is saying as much in the recent verses about the grafting (and ungrafting and _re_-grafting!) of the branches.

But, while _not_ denying that (far from it!), I don't think such an interpretation of "thus" makes sense with Paul's explanation from the _rest_ of verse 26. For Paul is certainly _NOT_ talking about "Esau" there (i.e. the Gentiles), but "Jacob"! And he is certainly _not_ talking about the portion of "Jacob" which has been kept until then/now, but the ungodly portion of Jacob!--those whom, from the standpoint of the gospel, are enemies (even of God), for "your sake" (i.e. for the sake of the Gentiles).

Trying to equate the ungodly Jacob here with the Gentiles to be brought in, simply results in incoherence. Paul must be talking _to_ Gentiles, about Jews (_not_ Gentiles) still outside the kingdom.

More precisely, "Jacob" must stand for all Israel, some of which is still ungodly, but which God has promised by His convenant with them: that the Deliverer shall come from Zion to remove this ungodliness from Jacob. How?--by excluding the sinners from the body of Jacob? No; _by taking away their sins_. This can only be from the sinful.

And surely Paul is not saying here than _only_ the ungodly remaining in Jacob are sinful and still in need of salvation! {g} No; but he's talking _to_ Gentiles here, _about_ "Jacob", and warning the Gentiles not to disparage the Jews, even the ungodly ones who are enemies from the standpoint of the gospel: for from the standpoint of the election (God's choice), they are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs (from whom even the ungodly Jews descend).

What is God's choice for the Jews who are _not_ the kept remnant then? Paul has told us: to take away their sins!

The math seems clear enough to me: Paul is saying God intends for _all_ Israel to be saved--the kept remnant and the ungodly alike.

And (per v32), if all Israel, then all Gentiles, too.


The interlocking of this chapter with chp 9, and the understanding of 9, is enhanced by a look at how Paul is using those verses I set aside earlier: vv30-31.

"For just as you [Gentiles] once were disobedient to God, but now have been shown mercy because of _their_ disobedience [i.e. the ungodly portion of Israel], so these also now have been disobedient in order that because of the mercy shown to you _they also may now be shown mercy._"


Now, a standard interpretation of 9:22-24, especially among hardline Calvinists (believe me when I say I _know_ there are hardliners who take this stance), is that God prepared 'clay pots' for destruction, in order that other 'clay pots' may be saved by God's mercy. An uncareful reading of the verses could easily give this impression, especially if Paul's parallel clarification in 11:30-31 is not taken into account.

But--I could point out that the point to vessels of wrath and destruction elsewhere in Jewish thought, is _not_ the destruction of the vessels, but to hold and pour out the wrath of God on someone other than the vessels! By parallel, the point to vessels of mercy, are to be filled with God's mercy, to be poured out on someone other than those vessels. On whom then? The standard interpretation would say on other vessels of mercy, I suppose. _I_ say, on the vessels of wrath, endured by God with much patience!

And so does Paul--not here (explicitly) in 9:22-23, perhaps, but definitely later in 11:30-31!

Picking up the point from 11:31, which is clearly speaking of the same principle (except there Paul is speaking primarily to Gentiles about Jewish enemies of God, not to Jews about Gentile enemies), we may render the same principle, more clearly expressed there, back into 22-23: These vessels of wrath (whom God uses to demonstrate His wrath, especially on Israel) have been disobedient, in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy which He prepared beforehand for glory, by--doing what?--pouring out God's _mercy_ to the disobedient!

Chapter 9 is _not_ about God pre-damning those vessels of destruction at all!--but about their salvation. It is addressed, like 11 (though the other way around) to one group, insisting they drop their spiritual and historical grudges against the other group, because God Who hardens the hearts of both groups has no intention of leaving those hearts hardened, much less of destroying them, but intends to _save_ both groups.


{inhale} ....whiiiiiich is probably a whole lot more about Rom 9/11 (no pun originally intended {g}) than anyone ever wanted to hear about!

But for certain disputes among Christians, it can be awfully important.

(And maybe for those outside the fold, too. What would be better news for Steven?--that God intends to save him and those he loves from his sins, and will go the distance to accomplish that in their hearts; or that God might have decided to pre-damn him and/or those he loves and will go the distance accomplish _that_ in their hearts? Which one of _those_ may more accurately be called the eu-angelion?)


Jason

Raymond said...

I also take "not willing that any should perish" very literally. Also the second part: "but that all should come to repentance".

When I read in Revelation, and it says the Dead (small and great) stand before God, and are "judged according to their works" by the things in the books, I think I don't imagine what most do.

For me, that judgement takes place within the context of "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". Even if one doesn't believe that God foreknew that most people would reject his ways, you have to admit it would be easy for the Ultimate Intelligence to at least guess that billions would end up standing before his great white throne on that Last Day.

So... there appears very little point in even bothering to say "not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" unless this vast majority of humanity has repentance as an actual option. So very, very, many have died over the millenia, mostly with no access to Salvation.

So on the topic of a "second chance after death", I rather believe that for billions, after the initial death, they will get their _first_ real chance.

One might ask, "if you can wait to accept God until after this life, what the heck is the point of any of this?" The answers are many. I have only a few poor renditions of them, but I will do my best...

I believe:
*Those converted before their initial death (Firstfruits?) have an extra Reward for being Overcomers (there's more to eternity than just plain Salvation. One free gift of vanilla ice-cream is great, but some get to have a banana split.)
*His strength is made perfect in weakness; Firstfruits forged during this world's time will make a great example of how very possible Repentance is. An example the rest of humanity can be inspired by during the 1000-year reign, and at the Last Day.
*This world was an illustration for humanity's benefit; we got to observe first-hand why forsaking God's ways to "do our own thing" is a Very Bad Idea. Now we will have digested and internalized a disgust for evil and a deep humility _prior_ to becoming Spirit. No more Satans.

There are many more reasons why I believe "the world as we know it" had to happen, but I don't feel up to making an exhaustive list. =]

A simple summary is that I feel that most people who have ever lived will be 'saved'. Sodom & Gomorrah included. I see much evidence in the scriptures against the 'believe-now-or-burn-in-hell' doctrine that the mainstream Christian groups advocate. It appears to me to be contrary to God's nature to burn up any but those who willfully and knowingly refuse repentance to his face, either on that Last Day, or by blaspheming/quenching/forsaking the Spirit.

Ed said...

Wow. This has been enlightening. There are a lot of good points being made.

I have to ask, though, if this really has an effect on the work to which we are called. If the Calvinists are correct, God has chosen some from before time. I don't know which he has chosen. If the Armenianists are correct, then the will of a man is the final determination of his fate. I don't know which man will choose Christ. So in the final analysis I have a commandment to go make disciples of all men, and no way to know which ones will actually become disciples.

Anonymous said...

To try to live a Godly life of 3- dimensional intelligence, while simultaneously understanding the transcendent existence of a God without dimension is maddening. I often wonder if just my questions are offensive to the God of the universe. Does this same God really have the ability to create worlds at a whim, and still worry about my prayer requests. There is no empirical proof either way. We must rest our understanding of life on faith alone for credit. This earthly world is awash in wonder and amazement. Truly the work of a being with unspeakable powers. Truly a God that I wish to be close to, and to spend my eternity with. However, I find the "leap of faith" to be difficult on some days.

Sisao Tresed

Clicker said...

There's really so much to comment on from the blog, so I've only commented on that one verse which I believe is a little misunderstood....and look how long I've bleated on about one verse!...lol. 2 Peter 3:9. Let’s start at verse 1 and see what the context of the letter actually is before we pluck one verse out of the entire letter and decide what it means by itself.

Simon Peter is writing to believers referring to them as ‘beloved’. V1. He then stirs up their minds to remember the scriptures because he knows what is to come…v2. He tells them, talking of the last days, that mockers (unbelievers) are going to come and taunt them and tell them their faith in Christ is in vain v3 and 4. Peter then quite sarcastically points out how foolish these mockers are…that they are focusing on what has not yet come (Christ’s return) but are forgetting what has already been (creation of the world, the flood, etc all described in the scriptures) v5 and 6. Then in verse 7 Peter begins to point out the reason for God’s ‘lengthy’ plan. The Earth is being reserved for the day judgement and thereafter the destruction of the ungodly.

Peter then reminds them that the Lord is not constrained by time as man is…that eternal God has a different view of time than mortal man v8. Then the crucial verse…. 2Pe 3:9 The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you (referring to believers), not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance. Who is this ALL the Lord is showing patience to? The entire world? No, in the context of this particular scripture it is believers! Not the ungodly, the unrepentant ‘sons of disobedience’. No, toward ‘you’ being the believers…those who believe in Christ, in the work of the Cross, in the final judgement!

The whole context of these passages are that God is keeping the earth for the purpose of the elect to come to repentance, and then there will be the day of judgement.

Surely we who know the power of the living God know that if it were God’s will to save every person who ever lived, then He is perfectly capable of doing it? Do we imagine something or someone could restrain the Almighty? Do we think anybody, any demon, any angel is up to the task of telling God He can’t have what He desires? That’s not the God of the bible as I read about Him. I read about him being able to turn a man's heart in the direction He so desires Prov 21:1, Pharaoh in Exodus. That we make all our own plans, but it is God who works out His will in our lives Prov 16:9. Let’s not make God as a man…..He is divine and sovereign…He is King, He is ALL MIGHTY. We may not like some things we read because perhaps we don’t understand it….but that is no excuse for making a verse fit an idea that sits comfortably in our own minds so we can have some sense of ease. Sometimes we get stuck at looking at scripture from a certain perspective...often from a prospective of presumption. For example most of the unbelieving world, and many a Christian can't marry the concept of a loving God with one who allows people to perish. Their view is often expressed like this, 'It is not fair that He saves some and not others. After all, we are no better than our fellow man, so why are we saved and not them?' But if we take away our human reasoning and presumptions and look to the Word of God we find a more biblical way to understand it. And that is that we, all in our corrupted natures, in our rebellion and wickedness before God (Rom 3:10-12) we all deserve the punishment of hell, but in God’s love and mercy He chooses to save millions. That is His right. I am just grateful He chose me because I am no better than my neighbour! Ephesians 1:4-6 tells us that God’s choice was guided only by His love according to His kind intention and to the praise of His glory. Amen! What, I believe, the more dangerous idea is is the idea that we must reason God out until it sits 'right' with us, and not look to scripture only to understand Him and get to know Him better.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

Parable of the wealthy employer. (According to election)
A wealthy business man decided to take his entire staff on a trip around the world. He had his plane for this trip specially designed with a trap door in the bottom of the passenger compartment. There was a red lever that was mounted on the wall to cause the doors to drop open. Before the flight began, the employer told his foreman that everyone was free to enjoy the flight but under no circumstances was he to pull the red lever. If he did, they would all perish. Well, once in flight, the foreman decided to pull the lever. Everyone plunged from the plane and was falling to their deaths but a few of the employees had been given a backpack that turned out to be a secret parachute! As these chosen few dropped from the plane with the rest of the group, a tether line that had been attached to the pull-chords by the employer, automatically caused the hidden chutes to open, thus saving the lives of this select few. The rest plunged to their deaths. When asked, the employer said that there was nothing special about those chosen to be given the parachute. The saved employees had been no better or no worse than the others. It was just the thing that he decided to do before the flight began.

Parable of the wealthy employer. (According to free will)
A wealthy business man decided to take his entire staff on a trip around the world. He had his plane for this trip specially designed with a trap door in the bottom of the passenger compartment. There was a red lever that was mounted on the wall to cause the doors to drop open. Before the flight began, the employer told his foreman that everyone was free to enjoy the flight but under no circumstances was he to pull the red lever. If he did, they would all perish. Well, once in flight, the foreman decided to pull the lever. Everyone plunged from the plane and was falling to their deaths but as it turned out, each had been given a parachute by the employer. As they plummeted toward the ground, the employers own son was falling with them. He called out to the others to pull the cord on their chutes before it was too late. Some listened to him and were saved while others thought it foolishness and were enjoying the experience of freefalling through space. Some called back that they had plenty of time and would do it later. Some flapped their arms, thinking that they could save themselves by their own efforts. Still others pridefully shouted back that no one was going to tell them what to do. When asked, the employer said that every passenger had been given the opportunity to be saved but sadly, many chose not to accept.

2 Peter 3:8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

Anonymous said...

In terms of your comment that God is slack in working on getting people into the kingdom, I disagree and I beleive scripture does also:


Geneis 6: 3 says "My Spirit will not always strive with man..." indicating that God's Holy Spirit is striving and attempting to convert humans on a regaular basis.


This is supported in Romans:

Romans 2:13 for it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified. 14 For when Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, 15 in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them, 16 on the day when, according to my gospel, God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.

So when the secret of our hearts are revealed, we will know who has responded to His Holy Spirit...and been born again...like Jesus talked about in John 3:3. We don't know where the wind comes from, or where it is going, but the Lord knows them that are His.

Hmmm....perhaps like the Good Samaritan....He produced the kind of fruit that would indicate his heart had somehow united with the heart of God while the ones that claimed to know Him didn't lead lives that would indicate they have a hear after God.


We will be suprised to see who is in heaven, and who isn't. God sees the heart and His Holy Spirit deals with the heart and He is looking for a response toward relationship with Him...as John 17:3 says, "This is eternal life that they may "know" You the only true God and Jesus Christ whom You have sent"

Paul thought he knew God. Turns out, God got ahold of him and let him know he didn't. Yes, we need preachers to speak what the Holy Spirit is already screaming to often spiritual ears that have become "dull" of hearing.

Perhaps the prophet Isaiah sums it up best indicating God's evangelistic efforts:

Isaiah 65

1 "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;
I was found by those who did not seek me.
To a nation that did not call on my name,
I said, 'Here am I, here am I.'
2 All day long I have held out my hands
to an obstinate people,
who walk in ways not good,
pursuing their own imaginations-

3 a people who continually provoke me
to my very face,

His Spirit woos everyone...ours is to respond and cry out to Him.

Anonymous said...

context, context, context... in 2 Peter 3:9, it say God is not willing that ANY should perish. Ask yourself who or what is ANY referring to? Turtles, Jews, Cows...within the context, it is clear that he is speaking to the elect. The beginning of 1st Peter makes that clear. This is the 2nd letter to the same group of people. (see beginning of 2Peter 3)
So the idea is now that God is not willing that any (of the elect) should perish.
Our God is an all-sovereign God.

Michael said...

perhaps it is his will. but because he is an all powerful all knowing god. He knows already who will be saved and who will not. who will be/is his elect and who is not. So though it may be his will that none perish, but ALL come to repentance. he has already chosen his elect. and though you may find it lacking and silly that he presents all man with the opportunity though he has already chosen. "the lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long suffering toward usward." Which means though he knew who would repent and believe...he gave us all the opportunity and chance.

Bill said...

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward you, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” This seems impossible to argue until one asks who this verse is written to. It is addressed to the beloved (vrs.8). “Toward you(us)” is referring to the saints, is it not? “not willing that any (of them) should perish…” And indeed all who He wanted to come, did.

Paul. said...

Nice try Bill but no cigar I'm afraid.
"..He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but EVERYONE to come to repentance."2pet 3:9
Thats everyone Bill,not everyone within earshot,or everyone in the room,or everyone with an income of 50,000 pa or more:)
Yes the word everyone is a tricky and difficult word to to understand and requires much erudite contemplation .

Dorci said...

Rom 1:20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Anonymous said...

God loves you and wants you to come to him. if you refuse to come he isn't going to drag you against your will. if you hate him he isn't going to brain wash you. he wants you not a robot. that is why you have free will. God wants your love to be given to him but he won't force it. accept his love and reap the benifits or hate him and reap the punishment for your sin. christ is ready to pay your tab but if you won't let him take your place in punishment don't be upset when he doesn't force you to let him take your place.

God loves you so much he died for you...come to him and accept his gift of life. he wants you to accept it but he won't make you.

the road is narrow and few chose it...chose it...

Louis A. DeCaro Jr. said...

I'd rather have a sovereign God who elects and passes over others. At least that makes sense as to sending people to hell. But your concept of some "good" God who loves everyone so much, and then lets them freely choose to self-destruct seems to me just as problematic, if not a little sick. The God you speak of has so much love that He sends His Son to die, then when people "freely" say "no" to Him, that same God says, "OK, if that's what you want, go to hell." I'd rather be a Universalist then an Arminian, because at least they make sense when they say God really loves everyone, i.e., everyone gets saved. Besides, how would you be able to comprehend what brings glory to God at the level of His understanding? You're a brilliant creature, but nevertheless you're still a creature. That's the point of His sovereignty. Sorry, I respect your feelings, but mine are quite the opposite. I'd rather believe in a sovereign God who saves some and sends the rest to hell for reasons I cannot understand than to believe in a God who "loves everyone" and "wants everyone" literally to be saved, but then lets them commit eternal suicide without doing anything to stop them. That's weak, not a God I want to worship.

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Anonymous said...

God isn't willing that any should perish. But God is also a just God. Who is perfect. His thoughts are not our thoughts and his ways are not our ways.
Romans 3:23 "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God"
ROmans 3:10 "as it is written there are none righteous no not one"
Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT of God is eternal life through jesus Christ our Lord"
~I'll comment here. the conclusion you came to from the verse your read in 2 Peter was that God wont let any go to Hell, but in any situation you, hopefully understand that there is either a good or bad consequence. Because as the verse say above that all have sinned and the one directly below it says the WAGES of sin is death, there is only one conclusion that can be drawn clearly, logically, and most importantly biblically, that because of our sin, we die. But gloriously the 2nd part of the verse gives us hope through the GIFT of Jesus Christ our Lord. When someone gives you a gift for your birthday or christmas or something, you have to do the act of accepting, correct? well Gods gift is the same, he isnt willing that any should perish. Which leads me to my next few verses.
Romans 5:8 "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners Christ died for us"
Gods gift is his sons sacrifice of his perfect life dying(death, remember the wages of our sin is death)on the cross for our sins.
Romans 10:9,10 "That if that shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation."
`In these verses God tells just exactly how to accept that gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. He made it simple for us but incredibly painful for him, God was so willing that none should perish, loves us so much, that he is willing to give his perfect son to die for our sins. A perfect, clean loving sacrifice, in exchange for our flithy defiled,sinful lives. God also says in Romans 10:13 that whosoever shall call upon the name of the lord shall be saved. Thats right, i didnt mistype, god doesnt have an elect few his chooses he offers his gift to everyone. It is fact however, that only an elect few are willing to turn from thier sinful lives, repent of there sins, humble themselves call upon the name of the Lord and ask him to save them. Its not of anything you can do, but of everything that He did. Which leads me to my last point, in 2 Peter 4:11, First please notice , that every verse above is quoted in context and in its entirety, if not important parts or qualifications of the verse are not left unmentioned. When you read in 2 Peter 4:11, do you read the whole verse or just exactly what you see or want to know? 2 Peter 4:11 says exactly " The lord is not slack concerning his promise as some men count slackness; but is long- suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, BUT THAT ALL SHOULD COME TO REPENTANCE" God offers the gift of eternal life to every one (Romans 10:13) but you have to be willing to accept it. You need to be willing to repent, you have to COME TO REPENTANCE to recieve what he so dearly wants to give you. My friend, he loves you so dearly, and he is not willing that any should perish. But are you willing to humble your self to accept he so precious gift, if you are not then you will spend an eternity in hell. If you are he will so gloriously wash you white as snow and cleanse you from every sin. He will forgive you, and give yo a home in Heaven. he loves you and wants to save you, but again i ask, Are you willing to accept his gift of eternal life?

Anonymous said...

Is there a problem with not being able to understand it?
I find comfort in the fact that we have to keep struggling to accommodate the fact that God doesn't want anyone to perish and the fact that God chooses some to live and die. (I also don't find the idea that "God, looking through eternity, foresaw and endorsed those who would be saved" to be a sickly idea. I do find it beyond human comprehension, though.) I find comfort in the fact that God is more than I can understand, and so his decisions are more than I can understand. If I could understand him, he'd be just like me.
I figure that there's a lot we're supposed to struggle with and never understand, there's a lot we have to accept as being true even if it seems as though two true things are mutually exclusive. I figure that's why Paul calls it a mystery.

Blaine and Elisa said...

Hi, I happened to find your post (which I see is five years old) when I googled "God is not willing that any should perish". I was trying to quickly look up the verse reference (I knew it was 2 Peter 3) in preparation for a teaching incorporating the testimony of the great lengths God went to save my father before he died.

This testimony has given many hope for those who have lost loved ones but have been haunted with fears of their eternal destiny or even been taught that they were definitely in hell. It has also brought renewed faith to persevere in prayer for the salvation of those stubborn souls like my dad who seem beyond reach.

The testimony is very powerful (not because I wrote it but because of God's amazing work)m and it can be found at http://thevanderschuitvoyage.blogspot.com/2009/12/passing-of-my-father.html

www.concordant.org said...

I would suggest further thought and reading by going to the site: www.concordant.org. Or you can write to me k7vhq@earthlink.net. There is a lot more to learn.

Anonymous said...

READ PLEASE! my husband and I have gone over this many times and have come to realize the way both of these things can come together... Predestination, and God is not willing that any should perish. it says in the bible that God came to seek and to save that which is lost.(matthew) everyone is lost. he says WHOSOEVER BELIEVES in him will not perish but have everlasting life....among many others... so how does this fit with predestination and elect? God predestined Jesus to save us before the foundation of the world. who needs to be saved? everyone. that means we were all predestined or chosen to be saved before the world was formed. but until you believe, you are not part of the elect. it is like if i choose you to be on my football team, you are chosen, but you can still deny my request....therefore everyone is predestined/chosen but belief/faith that God died for your sins is what seperates those that have become part of the elect. this is demonstrated in the verse "because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. 1 tim. 4:10. and on another note, i don't understand why you said we can be saved "if we give up our worst sins". A: there is no sin to great for Gods blood. Jesus makes this clear when he tells the pharisees that if they hate it is murder if they lust its adultry... sin is sin to God.(some sin has worse consequences on earth, and maybe we loose treasures in heaven) but to say you have to give up your worst sins to be saved is contradictory to many verses such as: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast Ephesians 2:8-9.
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work Romans 11:6.
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law Romans 3:28
all of these and more show clearly that it is by faith alone and works cannot be mixed with this. If you had to give up your sins you would be relying partly on yourself to get to heaven. and lets be honest with ourselves, while being saved should produce change and we should try after being saved to do good things for God, we all know that we are still sinful,we still hate, we still lust, we still lie...although we might now feel guilty because we have the holy spirit. God just now see's us as perfect. he has imputed our record onto himself. We are a new creation:) to be saved you must simply repent (acknowledge you're a sinner) and Believe Christ died for those sins.

Anonymous said...

I think its more like a parent that doesn't want to punish the child so the parent asks "Did you steal the cookies from the Jar?" (the parents already know that the child has stolen the cookies from the jar) If the child responded "Yes, I'm sorry" The parent would be forgiving to the child, but the child said "No I didn't and lied" The parent would want to punish the child for lying, but because the parent doesn't want to punish the child, the parent asks the same question again, or asks "are you sure" I think God is like delaying judgement as He wants all to repent and be saved, like, He's giving us time so that we may repent, like right now some guy might not believe in God, but God keeps knocking on the door again and again, hoping the guy will let Him into his life.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Calvinist, but allot of what they say makes a lot of sense.
number one thing is that God doesn't try any thing he accomplishes it. He is God and He is sovereign, and also Jesus gave a parable about a man that sold all he had to purchase the land to get the pearl of great price.which we know the pearl is the church or elect how ever you want to put it,but the fact of the matter is that God did die for the world but ultimately it was for his church which the world is still accountable for his death weather chosen or not and i due believe God dose the choosing because if you are a slave to sin how can you make a conscious decision towards God that's impossible Jesus clearly states that no one can come to the son except the father draws him, so it takes God to save and to keep a person I'm living proof of that because i never had a desire towards God prior to him saving me i actually fought against God but he won thank God that's why i know its in Gods hands and not up to some man to decide. its not to him that willeth or to him that runneth, but God that sheweth mercy. Any one that believes that its man that decides, needs to really pray and ask God to open there eyes because there blinded by pride and giving to much power to man and not God.

Caleb Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Caleb Davis said...

Glad to see the discussion that's been taking place for literally years on just this blog post.

As to the original post, I would just like to point out that the entire passage reads as follows (NIV):

"The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare."

The verse makes it clear that God is delaying his judgment so that people will repent, since he does not want any to perish. But it makes it just as clear that God’s final judgment will come. As Hebrews 9:27 says, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face the judgment.” If people can still repent after the judgment, why would God delay? Why would delaying judgment save people from damnation if they will eventually repent after the judgment anyway?

I think we must accept that those who do not repent in this life are “in danger of the fire of hell” (Matthew 5:22). That is the true teaching of God’s Word, and it should give us urgency to spread the Gospel of repentance and salvation through Jesus while we still have the opportunity. Night is coming when no man can work (John 9:24).

To those who study the scripture, keep studying! But remember not to base your conclusions on snippets of verses, even the ones I’ve mentioned above. Consider the whole context and how the verse compares to the rest of scripture. God bless!

Anonymous said...

Let go your sins? On your deathbed?
You can't exactly drink, steal, or commit adultery.

Mjazz said...

I believe there are different degrees of reward and punishment in the afterlife. After all, Christ said woe to Tyre and Sidon, because Sodom and Gomorrah would have repented had the miracles been shown in them, therefore their punishment would be greater.
Don't tell me the proverbial 11 year old Hindu boy who never heard of Christ would be in the same place as Hitler.

Anonymous said...

God does not predetermine your fate. He gave you free will that he will not violate. But because he exists throughout all time, he knows what choices people will make. Does it seem cruel to make somebody who is destined to suffer in Hell? From our perspective it sure does. But until you are made, you cannot exercise free will, and faith is a matter of your willingness to believe in God, or you can choose to perish by rejeting God, but it is not God that made you to perish.

Anonymous said...

Who's who? The Parable of the wheat and tares play a critical role understanding in who is who. After teaching all the parables ,The disciples were not just a "little" concerned about the wheat and the tares, and for good reason! They asked Jesus to Explain or Litteralize this story. It is astounding what He says. The Field "is" the World(Earth).The Good Seed are the "Children" of the Kingdom", Planted there in the Earth, (World) by the Son of Man, (Jesus) Period! The Tares are the "Children" of the Wicked one! Planted in the Field,(World Earth) by the Devil! Period. No guessing here. This simple Explaination of Jesus is without controversy and easy to understand. Just not easy to accept! Two kinds of people in the World. Gods' and the devils. The Ellect and the Dead. The Preaching of the Gospel is as much a Part of Ellection as any. It is the Power of God unto Salvation. We Preach out of obedience. Not because we understand. Remember that God sent Isaiah to Israel with a message of Repentence but before he went God assured him they would Not believe. He obeyed! That's what God is after. Not our understanding of His thoughts and ways that are above and Higher than ours. If a man cannot Imagine God doing this or that, then he must Invent a Palitable God whom he can understand and Justify. read Romans 9. He is the Potter. We , clay. We have no right to question Gods' actions. Just Trust Him.Blessings

tauhid40 said...

God is God whether you or I believe HE is. Make no mistake I believe In GOD and All that HIS word says... The scripture says that GOD is not willing that any should perish... Lets take a close look at the KEY WORD "willing." HE is not "willing" that any should perish. GOD gives free will to every human being to choose right from wrong. Salvation is a gift, of which GOD sacraficed HIS ONLY BEGOTTON SON JESUS CHRIST (GOD in the flesh)(thats another sermon for another day) and affords salvation to anyone that comes into repentance and believes that JESUS died on the cross and rose the third day. JESUS said HIMSELF,"I AM the way, the truth and the life, no man comes unto the FATHER except thru ME. You have to be "WILLING" to be saved from eternal damnation. 2Chronicles 7:14 says.. If my people who are called by MY name will humble themselves, and pray and seek MY face, and turn away (repent) from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land... Sin seperates us from the will of GOD, so GOD gives you time to repent as a part of YOUR OWN FREE WILL. IF YOU ARE NOT WILLING TO REPENT AND ACCEPT HIM WHY SHOULD HE BE WILLING TO ALLOW YOU AND YOUR SINNFUL UNSAVED NATURE ENTER INTO HEAVEN. Read your bible and trust in GOD to DIRECT YOU TO HEAVEN not man, because man will lead you straight to hell... Tauhid

friend said...

its simple, God loves those who love Him, and He knew who that would be at the moment of creation, not before as some suggest, otherwise you have a god who predestinates people to hell, which He doesnt, ad if you will look at that verse again In Roamsn 9, you will see that the writer simply says "what if" God decided to predestinate people to hell, who are we to judge God, the writer didnt say that God actually did it, so Calvin was wrong.

Proverbs 8:17 "I love those who love me; And those who diligently seek me will find me.

toknowHim said...

2 Timothy 4:3-4 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

COLOSSIANS 2:4-8 AND THIS I SAY, LEST ANY MAN SHOULD BEGUILE YOU WITH ENTICING WORDS. FOR THOUGH I BE ABSENT IN THE FLESH, YET AM I WITH YOU IN THE SPIRIT, JOYING AND BEHOLDING YOUR ORDER, AND THE STEDFASTNESS OF YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST. AS YE HAVE THEREFORE RECEIVED CHRIST JESUS THE LORD, SO WALK YE IN HIM: ROOTED AND BUILT UP IN HIM, AND STABLISHED IN THE FAITH, AS YE HAVE BEEN TAUGHT, ABOUNDING THEREIN WITH THANKSGIVING. BEWARE LEST ANY MAN SPOIL YOU THROUGH PHILOSOPHY AND VAIN DECEIT, AFTER THE TRADITION OF MEN, AFTER THE RUDIMENTS OF THE WORLD, AND NOT AFTER CHRIST.

Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.

Hebrews 9:27-28 And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Ezekiel 33:11 Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel?

Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord,

Romans 3:28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

Romans 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

There is no paradox, conflict or contradiction in the word of God. It is simply our lack of understanding and sometimes our complicating of simple things. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned. We all have free will, even Jesus before the cross Its one way God's universe operates and that is how Lucifer became the Devil. God did not ordain it to be that way but he made choice and these were the consequences. God foreordained that Jesus would be the one to save mankind if they would believe in the deepest sense of its meaning (i.e. if you love me keep my commands. Man has a choice whether to serve God or not. God made His Son's sacrifice available to us that to all who believe, they might have life. That is the essence of the word predestination. Those who believe and will be saved were destined too not because God forced them too or God had sealed them to make that decision from the beginning, but because they exercised their free choice to obey God and to serve Him even His Son Jesus, and like Jesus to say to endure saying not my will but thine!So God made everything available for us to be saved as He is willing that none should perish, but because of His law of free will which operates on the principle of love, we have a choice, keeping in mind that our choices have natural and supernatural or rather Divine consequences; our unhappiness and self destruction or our happiness and soul salvation. Do not comfort yourselves in lies, comfort yourself in the truth. The lie is profitable unto you nothing, but gives you a false hope. Take consolation and comfort in the truth, The Lord is truth, His Word is truth. Read it and study it line upon line and precept upon precept and do not be deceived by doctrines of demons!

toknowHim said...

2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
______________________________

Isaiah 8:20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.

Matthew 5:14 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
_______________________________

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.

James 4:10 Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Watchman_27 said...

God knew us before the foundations of the world were laid. How? Because we were with Him. WE WERE WITH HIM!! God has poured out revelation in these last days, just like He said he would. I HIGHLY... HIGHLY recommend looking us a guy by the name of ZEN GARCIA. He as a webpage: fallenangels.tv

There is also a website that is very informative with this info:

TRIBULATION-NOW.ORG

both sites (and the guys who run them) are CHRISTIANS. I know a lot of conservative Christians will have a problem with the stuff they will read there, but this isn't about our watered down religious system. This is about us returning to God, through our Lord and Savior and King, Jesus Christ. During the rebellion in heaven eons ago we were given a choice to be sent here (earth) to be reconciled to God. Lucifer (who is controlling this realm) took a third of the angels of heaven with him. We (us on the earth) accepted a plan of redemption that God gave to us. Genesis and the story of ADAM and EVE is so much DEEPER than what anyone realizes. IT IS NOT ABOUT A WOMAN EATING AN APPLE 6,000 YEARS AGO. That is NOT why there is sin in the world. Our SEED (DNA has been tampered with, greatly). There is so much revelation and information, I wouldn't be able to explain ti all in this forum. I PRAY that you at least check out the websites I mention. Especially Zen Garcia's (fallenangels.tv). May God be with you all.

NOTE: Be careful to spell FALLENANGELS.TV with and "S" at the end of ANGELS. fallenangel.tv is a pornographic website. I'm not trying to lead anyone astray. God Bless!!!

His servant said...

Is this why we left the teachings of Rome, to argue amongst ourselves about the next new topic of contention? I feel much of this debate is a device of the enemy to distract men from leading their families, sharing the Gospel of hope, and focusing on Jesus... The way ,the truth, and the life.

The real question is not where you fall in on the responsibility/sovergienty debate, but rather are you daily abiding in Christ, losing your life so as to find it!


God knows the answer to the debate that will keep us trapped for a lifetime. "If you do not have faith like a child, you will not inherit the kingdom of heaven"
-Jesus

Therefore like a child, lets believe that God is completely sovergien, but live like we are completely responsible. Both ends of the debate will be covered and in eternity, when lying on my face before Jesus I will not be found lacking. A man at peace with His God lives a life of faith, obedience, and repentance. A life lived this way stills a man's conscience, and brings abiding rest for the soul.

The Bible is a mirror for the Christian's soul. Do I look like Christ? Am I losing my life to find it, or daily losing the battle of self to porn? God's grace applied to the humble repentant life brings holiness.
Am I living for myself or Christ? No matter the answer to the R/S debate, the reality of whether I know Him is found in Mathew 16: 24-27. Lets be obedient sons and daughters of the Most High!

For His Glory. Agape

Chad

GotYHWH said...

Steven, God sees the attitude of a person's heart. We either choose to admit we are faulted and do not deserve mercy (which we then extends His mercy to us) or we choose to "depend in ourselves, our supposed goodness", and lose the mercy He would've given us. When the bible quotes situations like what you referred to in Joshua or other places like with the Pharaoh of Egypt, they had already determined in their heart what they wanted to do (free will) and simply gave them what they wanted. You seem to want to view God as a mean bully who lays favorites, forgetting the fact that he proved His love by sending Jesus, His Holy Solution to the sin problem. We are all sinners and while in this world will continue to sin. The difference between someone who believes in Jesus and those who refuse to is the attitude of the heart. A person after God's own heart is willing to admit they are faulted and want to turn from their ways. The person who refuses, God remains patient with - as long as He can until its plainly obvious they simply just don't want Him and like a gentleman He will step out of their way and leave them to the desires of their heart. "So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices." (Psalm 81:12 NIV) "The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so." (Romans 8:7 NIV) "What if God, although choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—" (Romans 9:22, 23 NIV) "

For it is by grace we are saved, through faith. We don't deserve it, but when we embrace it by believing in Jesus, we will not be put to shame and will for ever enjoy the riches of heaven in God's presence.

GotYHWH said...

Jason, you put a lot of thought and efforts in your responses. I appreciate your respectful responses to the other posts.

Roger said...

Victor, I appreciated this conversation and would like to say "Thank you" for allowing the discussion to move forward, even though there has been some difference of opinion.

I don't know all the answers, but I do know that God's ways are not our ways. We may never fully understand this seeming contradiction, but it does not, in any way, shape, or form, relieve us of the responsibility we have before Him to carry out our assigned tasks. Low-ranking soldiers in the army might share the same situation. Don't know why, but move anyway!

I do not fall into either the Calvinist or Arminian camp. I think both sides have good (and bad) points. I do, though, take exception to the concept of "free-will" as it is promoted in today's churches, because I believe that most of the people who are mouthing the words really don't understand the implications. I have written my own viewpoint and posted it on my blog. You can see it here. http://poorrogersalmanac.wordpress.com/free-will-predestination-none-of-the-above/

Again, thank you. ‎

Steven Burke Jr. said...
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Steven Burke Jr. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steven Burke Jr. said...

I like it, but your wrong i believe about God failing and you are doubting God i know about doubting myself, but can you know who all the true Christians were in all history in and out side of whats written in history book and the bible? Do you know all the true followers of God since the creation of the world? I doubt you do sir. Because what it takes to be a true Christian more then faith but the will of faithfulness. Commitment. Also God wants all you repent but He doesn't force you, he is our bride groom right? think of God before we marry to Jesus and God said do you want me because i want you i want to make sure its mutual. WE have that choice to say no i don't want you lord or yes i do. God chose all but are they willing to choose him, is heard once God is willing to save but not everyone is willing to be saved. Natural death on earth of course none is natural since Adam and eve were meant to be immortal, But anyway natural death here on earth is not the issue it does not mean God failed when someone dies on earth, evangelist are meant to not only bring the good news but to bring love, i know its hard to do that to millions of people. But telling them and leaving is not always wise some need to create friendships. Another thing is in the east many heard of the gospel, so why have they not accepted Jesus? Maybe because they don't want him or they are afraid of losing family for choosing Jesus, yes we are not supposed to love even our own family more then God and Jesus but its never that easy. Evangelist seem to stay to long also in one place when they are to spread the gospel, its as if they are saying we wont take no for a answer. Jesus said Matthew 10:14
If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Many evangelist wont leave and they should because its not just about creating a christian world its about making sure people have heard the good news of Jesus and if they reject Jesus then that is their fault not Gods. Beware of the devil he will make anyone feel that its Gods fault for our sins and that they should never go to hell even your closet loved one, but it is never Gods fault , God knows who wont accept the Gospel, and the bible does speak of saying that those who die in ignorance God is merciful. Do you think that God would send them to hell is they never had a chance to hear about Jesus Christ? That would be cruel of God. Isaiah 55:8-9
New International Version (NIV)
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts. Acts 17:30 ESV / 48 helpful votes

The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent

http://www.openbible.info/topics/ignorance

Luke 12:48 ESV / 5 helpful votes

But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

Ecclesiastes 8:17 ESV / 3 helpful votes

Then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.

Cdnkid said...

I think that God foreknows who will trust His work of redemption through the death of Jesus upon the cross (as it is a matter of free will choice-just as the Hebrews who escaped from Egypt had the choice to wait for Moses to come down from the mountain or turn to idol worship, and chose the golden calf worship by their own free will-then were challenged to decide who they would follow-the Levites went over to Moses and the Lord, the rest refused-and lost their lives because of it...)I am sure that God loved all of the people, and wished for them to trust Him, but the decision was left to them in the end...

Mithrandir said...

Kyle posted on Oct 14, 2005, "I'm with you all the way on this one... right up until I read the verses in scripture which seem to support some form of predestination. Then I get stuck in a paradox."

I might have an answer that I've been thinking on for quite a while now. Because we are humans, we exist in the realm of a fourth dimension known as time. God, because He is, was, and is to come, is not bound to this fourth dimension, nor is He bound to the three dimensions of space; He is God after all.

So we see free choice because we don't know what the outcome of that choice is. God sees predestination. He knows how many times we will fail before we learn from our mistakes. He allows us to fail knowing that we will draw closer to Him when we finally learn.

God sees all of time and space like we see the pages of a book. To explain another point, God allows certain catastrophes to happen to show humans that we can't rely on ourselves. We need Him to get us through life. There is no greater peace that I've felt when I've gone through a day fully trusting in Him.

I hope this helps. Peace, and on earth good will on whom His favor rests.

~ Romans 8:28

Arthur Parker said...

I've read this post and the majority of the comments underneath it and worked through many problems and found solutions.

Not all will agree and some have found the solutions themselves, but I would like to share here a few points of enlightenment:

1. Firstly, God is the highest, he judges the hearts and the reins, this is flesh and soul. (See Jer. 17:10) No man can judge man. No man should say who will go to hell and who will not.

2. Secondly, we cannot dictate God and we must always remain humble that we can be wrong and be misunderstanding the truth, no matter how much of the Holy Spirit we think we have. (See Galatians Chp. 2)

3. God does not dictate who will and will not believe and keep his faith. Predestination is made null and void. (See also point 4)

4. God stands outside of time, and though he may be with us following our thoughts, he cannot look upon sin without destroying it. For God to see all of time would mean judgement has also been made. Predestination as it is normally defined is null and void for this is not predestination, this is the end-knowing.

5. God is a perfect and righteous God. Not a single one's understanding of the Bible can trump this truth. (Unless you hold the Bible to be a lie.)

6. God is a God of truth. One must reconcile with reason, rationality, logic and all that God has endowed one with to seek out the truth or else one is deceived and is thrown out of alignment with the God of truth. Do not choose to ignore, but to seek vast understanding.

7. The Bible is not above God. Our understanding of the Bible is neither. God's word comes through fallible men, and as a perfect symphony is played through imperfect instruments that is how men receive it.

8. The Bible is left to interpretation. Anyone spending diligent time in this book will understand this.

9. God does not 'send people to hell'. God is perfect and righteous, only by our own doing can we 'end up in hell' and even then a perfect God would destroy utterly and have no purpose for torment, despite what verse you may pull, you may not disregard the consistency of the perfect God's perfect morality.

10. God wants to save all souls. Regardless of the interpretation of 2nd Peter 3:9, the old testament also contains verses of God not desiring the wicked to perish. There is also no doubt that a perfect and righteous God would do all he could so save all souls, this also means providing a means. The greatest argument for why this must be true is this:

Arthur Parker said...

Continuing from the last post:

Before we were created, there is nothing attributed to our being, we are but a soul in a body, and that body is imperfect, this is not a true and fair chance at understanding perfect truth. Our soul in an imperfect body trying to understand an imperfect world with a perfect God presiding over it is the result of the fall. In all the probability and possibility of one losing the chance at understanding God's truth, we know that some will most definitely accept God's truth, or else God would not die for us. All men died in Adam, all men were given a chance through Christ. (That includes men before Christ)

BECAUSE AT LEAST ONE HUMAN BEING WILL NOT PERISH, this means that an OMNIPOTENT GOD has the capability to then create a means or a PATH of life that he can place each SOUL on for salvation. This is not Universal-ism. This is the idea that a perfect and righteous God has the ability, as being all powerful, to give us that same body, same situation that allowed THAT ONE WHO ACCEPTED GOD to know THE TRUTH THE SAME WAY. For all perceive the world and truth differently, why not give us the equal opportunity? Especially as a perfect, righteous, holy, omnipotent, almighty God? Some suggest this is not by reincarnation but by a Kingdom of resurrection and education and then second death if rebellion remains.

To disagree would mean to say that God cannot operate in our world/universe the way we think he can. That "our box" is separate from God's plane of existence and his intervention is limited if not rendered withheld as a scientist would not interfere with a controlled experiment.

Gnosticism would give us better ideas about God if one cannot reconcile the perfect righteous God with the Bible. As this is unacceptable to most Christians please carefully examine the above 10 points.

Maurice Harting said...

The 2 Peter 3 verse you quoted in your title should be placed in context of 2 Peter 2. What Simon Peter is warning Christians about in his letter addressed to them in that there are false teachers in their midst. God does not want any Christian to perish (not one!), but non-Christians will perish as chapter 2 makes clear. The "all" does not refer to all human beings, for that would contradict 2 Peter 2: 9.
Keep in mind who Simon Peter is addressing in his letter here ...

cominus said...

"Great verse but one of the most basic rules for interpreting Scripture is to look at it within the context of the passage around it. When looking at the context of this clause we see Peter is talking to the elect – make your calling and election sure (1:10). In the first verse of chapter three, Peter references his first epistle to these same people and in that epistle he addresses them as the elect at the very start. Then we look at Chapter two, it is a list of people, throughout all time that God is not willing to save and has destined to destruction. In chapter three, Peter says the ungodly will be damned (3:7). So, at this point we know there are exceptions to “God is not willing any should perish.” Then, in the ninth verse, where Peter says “God is not willing any should perish,” he prefaces it with, “He is longsuffering toward us” – the elect – then he continues, “not willing that any should perish.” So, if we take this verse in context, Peter is talking to and about the elect when he says “God is not willing any should perish.” He is not talking about those in rebellion to Him – regardless whether they said the sinner’s prayer or whether they claimed to be saved.

"After we have examined a verse within the context of the passage, we should compare it according to what the rest of Scripture has to say about. The beginning of the conversation began with a comparison of modern Christianity claiming it easy to become saved versus Jesus Christ claiming it hard to become saved. If we think God is not willing any person should perish, this is the same God who rejected an entire generation of Israelites, leaving them to die in the desert. This is the same God who told Jeremiah on four different occasions not to pray for his generation of Israelites. In Matthew chapter thirteen, Jesus explains he speaks in parables lest the people hearing understand and believe. When Jesus explained to the disciples it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven, they had a hard time understanding (Mat 19:16-30). Because just like many modern professing Christians, they believed wealth was a sign of God’s blessing. Jesus explained we must deny ourselves and in John chapter fifteen He explains we must abide in Him to produce fruit; otherwise we perish – by fire. In John 2:23-25, many claimed to believe but Christ had no confidence in them because He knows the heart of man – in other words, they were not saved. In John chapter 6, Jesus makes His testimony hard and people are stumbling over what He is saying and He tells them they cannot come to Him unless the Father draws them. In John chapter eight, Jesus told believers they will stumble over the truth unless they abide in Christ and even then, they stumbled over what He said. And I won’t get into Romans chapter nine where Paul claims some are created for destruction. So, unlike modern easy-believism which boils salvation down to a recitation of the sinner’s prayer, Jesus tells us the truth is hidden from those not chosen; we can only come to faith in Christ if the Father draws us; and if we do not produce fruit, we will perish. So, we see from Scripture God qualifies those He is not willing should perish." - from cominus.com -- http://cominus.com/blog/god-is-not-willing-any-should-perish/