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2008.12.21

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Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Peter:

That should be I John 4: 14 and not Ephesians 4: 14.

Blessings,

Stephen

peter lumpkins

Stephen,

Thanks. I changed it.

With that, I am...

Peter

Stephen M. Garrett

Dear Peter:

I had not expected to comment upon this posting of yours, at least not till others had voiced their views. But, seeing as others have not felt inclined to comment, for one reason or another, and seeing the topic has been on my mind a great deal since you posted brother Caroll's thoughts, and seeing I have a little time at the present, I will "jump in" and give my thoughts, as a five point Calvinist.

But, before I do, let me preface what I mean when I say I am a five point Calvinist. Simply put, I am in line with Spurgeon. I am as Calvinistic as he is, even more so, being supralapsarian, which Spurgeon decried; but, I nevertheless do not believe that supralapsarianism is a doctrine necessary to be taught for evangelism, generally speaking. I do believe there are some older educated pagans who will not be converted to Christ unless the problem of evil is addressed, and free will discussed. These kinds of sophisticated sinners often already know the basis message of the gospel, and have rejected Christianity on rational or religious grounds. So, supralapsarianims can be a tool to "convince the gainsayers" among the elite classes of sinners.

So, to further preface, I say I am a Calvinist of the Spurgeon type. He believed that Christ died on the cross for the elect, in a way he did not die for all men; that he propitiated and reconciled God and his chosen in a way he did not do so for all men.

I do believe God wills or desires the salvation of all men, but that he has willed the salvation of the elect specially and particularly per the verse cited by brother Carroll. I believe that he has "made available," or "made provision for" the salvation of all men IN THE GOSPEL. The gospel being preached to sinners, elect or non-elect, is a common grace and means for their salvation. Christ is offered and made available to all who hear the gospel message.

But, have they all heard? Who will foolishly say all have heard the gospel? Who would say that there has never been a soul who died without hearing the gospel?

Is this not in some respect due to God's will? Sure, the Christian is duty bound to tell others, and the church duty bound to send forth evangelists, but God too is involved. He opens doors and closes them as regards the spreading of the gospel.

God also loves all men as creatures, viewed as creatures coming forth immediately from the hand of God. So, as Strong pointed out, even the Devil was loved by God when he was first created.

Also, God loves all men with "common love," and shows them "common grace" and "common goodness," but with others, the elect, he shows uncommon love, grace, and goodness, what is special and particular, what is super abundant.

No sinner, due to his stubborn will and natural depraved antagonism to God and righteousness, will choose to "avail himself" of the means that God has graciously and sincerely made available to them. The preaching of the gospel, in itself, cannot save anyone. If the gospel alone had the power, then all who hear it would be saved. So, though God offers himself and his salvation, graciously, to sinners, no sinner can change his own will and nature to desire what he hates and despises.

But, you see, in the case of the elect, God operates in a more powerful way upon the heart and mind of sinners than he ordinarily does through the word. In the case of the elect, God has predetermined to sovereignly and efficaciously work in the hearts of the elect so that they "will" and "do" of his good pleasure. (II Thess. 2: 13)

All the passages that seem to say that Christ died for every single sinner only say that Christ has been provided for every sinner IN THE GOSPEL.

It cannot mean "every single human being," even the universalists must admit. Why? First, not all hear the gospel and thus, it cannot be said, in these cases, that salvation had been provided for them. Second, it cannot mean "infants" for those who believe infants need no salvation. Third, it cannot mean "idiots" if we too believe that they need no salvation.

Consider also, whether the death of Christ made salvation available to those who had already died and were in hell when he died. If "whole world" = "every single human being, without exception," then we must say Christ died for infants, idiots, and all those who were in hell when Christ died.

Some will say that Christ had to die even for those who were in hell, and for those who reject his offer of salvation, IN ORDER TO DEMONSTRATE THAT HE IS JUST IN CONDEMNINIG THEM. However, this to me is adsurb, for it would make, redutio ad absurdum, Christ dieing in order to be able to condemn sinners.

So, in summation, Christ in some sense died for all men and the whole world. But, that this has to mean every single human without exception, is taking the phrases and terms way too far.

Besides, what keeps me a believer in particular redemption is because of the many passages that speak of Christ dieing for a particular people, for the sheep, for the church, etc. I think the advocates of universal atonement fail to recognize this particular aspect of the atonement. How do they reconcile Christ dieing for "all" versus for "many"?

Now, am I welcome in the Southern Baptist Convention?

With that I am,

Yours in Christ,

Stephen

Stephen M. Garrett

P.S.

Excuse the few typo and grammatical errors. I typed fast and with some distraction.

One other thing, I do not believe that Christ died in vain. (Galatians 2: 21). If Christ died to redeem a man and that man is not redeemed, how can we say Christ did not die in vain for him? That he suffered in vain for that man?

Also, in Romans 8: 33, 34 I see Paul as arguing that no one for whom Christ died can be condemned.

God bless,

Stephen

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