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2013.05.06

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ClayG

thanks for posting again! I did not read it in 2006, but BOY is it appropriate in 2013!

the Old Adam

I'm with you.

God does love the whole world.

But He is a JUST God. He must do what is right. If that means not saving everyone, than that's what will happen.

But He will save whom He will save. And He did die on that Cross for everyone.

When we tell people that 'Christ died for you'...we don't have to be liars, as the Calvinists (by necessity of their view) often are.

Thanks.

Les Prouty

Peter, good piece. I happen to agree with Carson, Ryle and Calvin. There is no need to make this particular use of the word "world" to mean anything other than this plain meaning that these commentators have suggested. I used to have that other opinion and probably for the same reason others still do. Namely, to want to bolster my view that there is a special love God has for the elect. But again, no need to do that here.

Thanks.

Les Prouty

Now Old Adam, no need to call us liars.

Les

Peggy Scott

Peter: Thanks for this article repeated from 2006. I have in the past 12 months become a faithful reader of SBC Voices and your blogs. You are one of my favorite bloggers as you say it where we can understand.

peter lumpkins

Peggy,

Thank you. I'm glad it was helpful, and know your words of encouragement are appreciated...

Lord bless...

Andrew Barker

Les, you omitted Arthur Pink. He was another honest Calvinist who is on record as having said "It is written, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John 3:27). When we say that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love, we mean that He loves whom He chooses. God does not love everybody;"

What a poor world we would live in, if that were the case. Of course, thankfully, it isn't! Les, you can bolster your view that God loves you specially (I'm assuming that you are one of 'the elect') but it won't be scriptural.

Les Prouty

Andrew, No I didn't omit Pink. I was referencing those referenced in the post. I didn't see Pink mentioned.

"Les, you can bolster your view that God loves you specially (I'm assuming that you are one of 'the elect') but it won't be scriptural."

Well, that's a matter of debate that "it won't be scriptural" is it not? Noted Calvinist John MacArthur said of this idea of God's love for the world (and in relation to Pink since you brought him up):

How we address the misconception of the present age is crucial. We must not respond to an overemphasis on divine love by denying that God is love. Our generation's imbalanced view of God cannot be corrected by an equal imbalance in the opposite direction, a very real danger in some circles. I'm deeply concerned about a growing trend I've noticed — particularly among people committed to the biblical truth of God's sovereignty and divine election. Some of them flatly deny that God in any sense loves those whom He has not chosen for salvation.

I am troubled by the tendency of some — often young people newly infatuated with Reformed doctrine — who insist that God cannot possibly love those who never repent and believe. I encounter that view, it seems, with increasing frequency.

The argument inevitably goes like this: Psalm 7:11 tells us "God is angry with the wicked every day." It seems reasonable to assume that if God loved everyone, He would have chosen everyone unto salvation. Therefore, God does not love the non-elect. Those who hold this view often go to great lengths to argue that John 3:16 cannot really mean God loves the whole world.

Perhaps the best-known argument for this view is found the unabridged edition of an otherwise excellent book, The Sovereignty of God, by A. W. Pink. Pink wrote, "God loves whom He chooses. He does not love everybody." He further argued that the word world in John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world...") "refers to the world of believers (God's elect), in contradistinction from 'the world of the ungodly.'"

Pink was attempting to make the crucial point that God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. The gist of his argument is certainly valid: It is folly to think that God loves all alike, or that He is compelled by some rule of fairness to love everyone equally. Scripture teaches us that God loves because He chooses to love (Deuteronomy 7:6-7), because He is loving (God is love, 1 John 4:8), not because He is under some obligation to love everyone the same.

Nothing but God's own sovereign good pleasure compels Him to love sinners. Nothing but His own sovereign will governs His love. That has to be true, since there is certainly nothing in any sinner worthy of even the smallest degree of divine love.

Unfortunately, Pink took the corollary too far. The fact that some sinners are not elected to salvation is no proof that God's attitude toward them is utterly devoid of sincere love. We know from Scripture that God is compassionate, kind, generous, and good even to the most stubborn sinners. Who can deny that those mercies flow out of God's boundless love? It is evident that they are showered even on unrepentant sinners.

http://www.oneplace.com/ministries/grace-to-you/read/articles/does-god-so-love-the-world-9312.html

I agree with JM.

Chris Tolbert

Why do we need to read a special sense into the world of John 3.16? Why not take the Scripture as it stands and follow where the evidence leads?

I happily agree with you Peter! Thank you for the encouragement to read the Scriptures properly. See, the thing about John 3:16 isn't the word "world." It's the word "whosoever." It's not "that whosoever will not perish..." but "that whosoever believes will not perish..."

Interestingly enough, in the same gospel, John records Jesus as saying, "Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. (emphasis mine) My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
John 10:25-29

It was not that Jesus' Gospel presentation wasn't appealing enough or convincing enough, but that they weren't His sheep. They were goats.

Andrew Barker

The question of God loving the world is dealt with most succinctly in Luke 10:25-37 “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF.

The quote at the end of the story is quite telling. "GO AND DO LIKEWISE"! Now I dare anyone to turn round to God and tell HIM that he is asking US to do something HE doesn't do himself!

Andrew Barker

Les, you quoted JM, but not scripture. Let go of JM's coat tails and give a straight answer to a straight question. What scriptural basis do you have for saying that God loves you more as an 'elect' person than somebody who isn't?


Ben Simpson

Les, excellent insight, brother!! Thanks for the MacArthur quote.

I love it when I hear conditional electionists like Andrew say, "He loves every person" as if that in itself defeats the biblical truth of unconditional election. It does not. God indeed loves every single person as MacArthur perfectly explained. However, what many conditional electionists miss is the fact that while God loves every person, He does not love every person the same.

Furthermore, God doesn't expect us to love every person the same. In fact, it would be sin for us to love every person the same. Husbands are to have a special love for their wife that is way more than the love he is to have for other people. Fathers are to have a special love for their children that is way more than the love he is to have for other people. For him to do otherwise is to sin.

The same is true for God. In fact, the husband/wife & father/children relationship is used over and over again by God in Scripture to point us to His love. Not every person is Jesus' bride. Not every person is God's child. Only those who trust in Jesus Christ have those metaphors applied to them, and it's to these individuals that God has a special love.

So, yes, God indeed loves every person who has ever lived or will live, but He does not love every person the same. That's the truth of Scripture! I don't say that as a boast before those who are not Christ's. I say that as a rejoicing before the Lord from the elect, whichever way you define that term.

Les Prouty

Andrew, the coat tails comment is unnecessary as was you accusation that I and others are liars. Why don't you take a chill pill and make comments not steeped in accusations (such as violating the ninth commandment) and playground rhetoric.

As to your, "give a straight answer to a straight question," I haven't seen a straight question to me before now.

I'll indulge you one time on this question:

"Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish." Eph. 5:25-27.

How did love the church? He gave Himself for her. He did not give Himself for every individual, unless one is prepared to say that every individual is in "the church." What we see here is a peculiar and exclusive love God has for some people that He does not have for all people. He has a general love for all His creation, but not the same love (see the verses above) He has for the church, His people the elect.

peter lumpkins

Hi Chris,

Nice dodge. And, just who says "the thing about John 3:16 isn't the word "world." It's the word "whosoever"? I would think John 3:16 would be about every word Jesus spoke in its reference not just about "world" or "whosoever."

But let's take your view, Chris: it isn't the word "world." It's whosoever believes.

So now we have God so loving the whosoever [i.e. the "believing ones"] that He gave His only Son. Is this what Jesus says? He does not and to suggest He does turns His proposition on its head. Jesus doesn't say God so loved the whosoever believing but God so loved the world that He gave His Son.

Hence, deferring Jesus' main point to God so loving the "whosoever believes" rather than "world" hardly redeems the deficient view that Jesus was not expressing a universal salvific love toward the entire human race upon the condition of faith as many Calvinists I quoted above concede.

Thanks again.

peter lumpkins

Les,

The question is not whether God loves all in a general or common grace kind of way. Most Reformed people concede this type of God's universal expression of love. Rather the chief question concerns whether God loves all in a salvific way. When one denies God's universal salvific love toward all of the human race, one is embracing at least one characteristic of theological hyper-Calvinism. That's what's at stake here in John 3:16. We've got guys denying God's salvific love toward all people being expressed anywhere in Scripture including John 3:16. Thus, I'm glad you do not deny "world" denotes the entire human race rather than the "world of the elect."

However, many appear to bleed out the clear meaning of "world" attempting to deuniversalize its contextual implications.

peter lumpkins

Ben

You wrote, "Only those who trust in Jesus Christ have those metaphors applied to them, and it's to these individuals that God has a special love."

Really? Well, what about John 3:16 which says God so loved the world that He gave His only Son?

Ben Simpson

Peter,

Like I said, God loves everybody, but He especially loves the Bride of Christ and His adopted children.

Lydia

"Only those who trust in Jesus Christ have those metaphors applied to them, and it's to these individuals that God has a special love."

I did not realize Calvinists believed we can actually "trust" in Him ourselves. I thought they believed that God had to give us the ability to trust. Our trust Him would only take away his Glory and Sovereignty elevating us as being able to do something. Such a confusing doctrine!

peter lumpkins

Ben

Sorry, but you're really not answering the question. My question pertained to what John 3:16 said concerning God so loving the world that He gave His only Son. You come back with God loving everybody but especially loving the Bride of Christ and His adopted children.

John 3:16 does not address His love specifically for the Bride of Christ and His adopted children. Instead it addresses God so loving the world. Now, what does it take to qualify for this especial love you mention? Jesus says the love God had for the world was such that He gave His only Son. Would the giving of God's Son meet the criteria of especiality you name for the Bride of Christ and God's adopted children?

SeekingDisciple

Noticed in the post that Dave Hunt was posted as "Dave hunt." Thought you would like to know. I love the post. I agree that John 3:16 is a passage that Calvinists simply must deal with and they often do a horrible job with it. They twist and turn to convince the world that Jesus died only for the elect. Even my 6 year old boy can read John 3:16 and know what it means just by reading it. It would require someone filling his mind with Calvinism to convince him otherwise.

peter lumpkins

Seeking Disciple

Thanks brother. To make J316 into a complicated proposition as strict Calvinists inevitably do reveals the weakness inherent in their position. Oh I appreciate the heads up on the typo...

Mary S.

Then obviously, when we take your interpretation and apply it to John 12:19 "Look, the world has gone after Him!”

Every single human being on earth was going after Jesus at that moment.

Thanks for clearing that up, Peter. ;-)

Ben Simpson

Peter,

I’m sorry to have not answered your question. First, do you take “so” to be an intensifying adverb (God greatly loved the world) or a demonstrative adverb (God in this way loved the world)? It’s not part of my argument. I’m just curious.

Second, John 3:16 does not address the special love that the Father has for His adopted children or for His daughter-in-law (Jesus’ bride). It is only speaking about the common love that God has for all of mankind. While this love is great, it’s not the fullness of God’s love. It does not meet the criteria for the special love God has for His children and Jesus’ bride. That is reserved only for those who are in Christ by grace through faith in Jesus.

Let me ask you a question: does God love the rebellious, unrepentant sinner with the same love that He loves the His adopted children and Jesus’ bride?

peter lumpkins

Dear "Mary S."

Thanks.

First, and why should we necessarily take "my" interpretation and apply it to John 12:19, "Mary S."? Why not answer the question I asked Ben above? Namely, the question which pertained to what John 3:16 said concerning God so loving the world that He gave His only Son. Care to elaborate on that for us?

Second, for the record, it's not just my interpretation but it's Carson's, Ryle's, and Calvin's whom I quoted in the OP. In addition, we could add, it's Luther's interpretation, A.T. Robertson's, Alfred Plummer's, B.F. Westcot's, Heinrich August Welhelm Meyer's, Nicole Robertson's, Alvah Hovey's, A.T. Lincoln's, Andreas J. Köstenberger's, Charles Hodge's, Harold Dekker's, John Peter Lange's, Phillip Schaff's, R. C. H. Lenski's, R. H. Reynolds, Albert Barnes', Henry Downing's, George P. Eckman's, and Hermann Olshausen's interpretation among many many others we could cite.

Third, the issue you raise, "Mary S.," is not whether "world" is employed in the New Testament denoting different usages. Greek linguists routinely list various ways "world" is used. Rather the question for strict Calvinists (perhaps strict Calvinists such as yourself??) to answer is, does the NT ever use the term "world" to denote the "world of the elect"? The answer the language scholars offer is a resounding, unqualified no.

Even so, strict Calvinists (perhaps strict Calvinists like yourself??) must interpret "world" in John 3:16 as "world of the elect" else the text stands contrary to their systematic theology. John Owen, the theological darling of so many strict Calvinists today, literally stood John 3:16 on its head to salvage his strict Calvinistic system. He wrote in The Death of Death these hermeneutically frightening words pertaining to the "world" in John 3:16:

So that the sense is, "God so loved his elect throughout the world, that he gave his Son with this intention, that by him believers might be saved" (p.214)

The lengths to which men will go in scholastic rationalism to sustain their preconceived theologies stalls the thinking man and woman's mind.

Hope this clarifies a bit on "my" interpretation I offered.

P.S. By the way, "Mary S." while I allow occasional anons to comment, as a general rule, I do not allow them to continue in dialog especially if they want to banter back and forth. Thus, unless you've got an acceptable reason for remaining anonymous, log you full name next time please (you can always contact me via email and let me know why it is you need to remain incognito)...

peter lumpkins

Ben says, "It is only speaking about the common love that God has for all of mankind. While this love is great, it’s not the fullness of God’s love." (italics mine).

Surely you are not serious, Ben. The love in John 3:16 is only common love? So it's common love God had which prompted Him to give His only Son? Sweet heavens, man! What, then would constitute an expression of uncommon, exceptional love? What would constitute an expression of the fullness of God's love if not the death of His only Son?

peter lumpkins

Ben

Further, as for the "so" in John 3:16, it matters nothing as to whether God loves redemptively all the world by giving His Son...

Ben Simpson

Peter,

It's only common in that every person experiences it. Good grief, I think you knew what I meant. It's uncommon in that it's amazing love, but it's common in that it's toward every person.

How about you answer my question? Thanks!

peter lumpkins

Ben,

You ask, "does God love the rebellious, unrepentant sinner with the same love that He loves the His adopted children and Jesus’ bride?" And, why do you suppose there exists in God two kinds of love? Do these supposed two kinds of love possess a different essence about them that makes them two separate kinds? Where in Scripture are these supposed two kinds of love split into two different kinds with two different essences?

peter lumpkins

Here's what you wrote, Ben: "It is only speaking about the common love that God has for all of mankind. While this love is great, it’s not the fullness of God’s love."

Now you say, "It's only common in that every person experiences it. Good grief, I think you knew what I meant. It's uncommon in that it's amazing love, but it's common in that it's toward every person."

I don't follow. The first mention of commonality you cite is God's common love toward us. It's God's love. Isn't that what you said? Now you're saying it's "only common" in that "every person experiences it"? I'm afraid I don't know what you mean, Ben. God's common love is objective; every person's "experience" is subjective.

Further, in your clarification you state, "It's uncommon in that it's amazing love, but it's common in that it's toward every person." What's amazing, Ben? And, what's common toward every person? God's love is expressed in John 3:16 very specifically--that He gave His only Son. So, wouldn't that giving of His only Son constitute the love God commonly expressed toward all people?

Andrew Barker

Les, I've never used intemperate language such as calling anybody a liar on this blog and certainly not you. The 'coat tails' bit is because I like to hear it from the horse's mouth. We can all cut and paste!

Your answer included ....

How did love the church? He gave Himself for her. He did not give Himself for every individual, unless one is prepared to say that every individual is in "the church."

Rom 5:8 God demonstrates His love to us ... while we were sinners.

Quite frankly Les, it enough for me to know that God loves me because I fall into the above category. If you want to claim God loves you a bit more or in a special way because you're one of the 'elect', I'm happy enough for you. But it doesn't do it for me! God loved me when I was a sinner and he still loves me even though I'm a sinner saved by grace and a member of his body the church. Love is a quality which can't be measured like a 'gallon of love' or a litre of 'like you a lot, but not quite so much, love'.

Ben: You quote ..."Furthermore, God doesn't expect us to love every person the same. In fact, it would be sin for us to love every person the same. Husbands are to have a special love for their wife that is way more than the love he is to have for other people. Fathers are to have a special love for their children that is way more than the love he is to have for other people. For him to do otherwise is to sin."

You also are confusing two different issues. A husband shows his love and indeed, God's love, to his wife by staying true to her. When God says he loves the church, he is talking of a single entity, the church. He is not referencing those individuals who are making up the church. It is correct that he loves us individually also.

But a husband cannot love another women in the same way as he loves his wife and claim to be showing God's love to her. It's impossible and we have a term for it, adultery! To suggest this as an illustration of God having a different love for some is bizarre in the extreme. A man who is a husband can and indeed must love other women in a correct way, with God's love. This means we, as husbands, show God's love to ALL because that is how God shows his love to us. Without favour!

The whole controversy surrounding this issue is being driven by one thing and one thing only. It is the attempt by some to bring the word of God into line with Calvinistic philosophy. Thankfully the word of God is not so bound!

Max

Peter writes " ... wouldn't that giving of His only Son constitute the love God commonly expressed toward all people?"

You would think that simple truth would precipitate a healthy AMEN from all corners of Southern Baptistdom! When the angel proclaimed "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people", I don't believe that message meant "the predestined from all people groups" or "all elected people" or the other gyrations one must go through to make it fit a certain theological grid. News delivered from heaven that some are saved and some are damned, and there is not a thing you can do about it, would not be good news and great joy to all people.

I can go anywhere on planet earth and tell any man that God loves YOU, Jesus died for YOU ... without worrying about which kind of love God may have specifically charted for them. Some would say that is just too darn simple - you need to lay that old vacation bible school theology down and grow up. I can't. Whosoever meaneth me ... and you! Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so. I can see some of you throwing up your hands in disgust at my simple words, writing me off as a stupid old man who views Scripture in a far too elementary way. But this truth is in my "knower" ... I can't unknow it.

Chris Tolbert

Peter,

Context says.

You contend that "God so loved the world" means that God loved/loves the whole world, meaning "all of mankind". Amen. Hallelujah. Praise the Lord. Just like through Abraham all the nations of the world were blessed. Even the Assyrians whom God sovereignly used to judge Israel and then judged them for how they treated them.

But the question you are really getting at is "For whom did Christ die to redeem?" That question is answered by "whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." Christ died so that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. So then the question is "Who can believe?" Well, whomever the "Spirit draws" (Jesus' words, not mine). You know, the "all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1)

So we take the Scripture as it stands and we follow the evidence where it leads. No one is dragged kicking and screaming into heaven against his fallen will and there will be no empty seats at the marriage feast of those Jesus wanted to save, but couldn't, because they resisted. Soli Deo Gloria.

Ben Simpson

Peter,

Let me quote you now: "Sorry, but you're really not answering the question." That's what you said to me earlier and what I'm now saying back to you.

I'll restate the question: does God love the rebellious, unrepentant sinner with the same love that He loves His adopted children and Jesus’ bride?

Lydia

Ben, Let a mere pew peasant ask you a rhetorical question. You have two grown sons. Both were raised the exact same way in a Christian home. One becomes a missionary but the other one becomes a drug dealing homosexual. Which one do you have a special love for that you don't have for the other one?

Now granted, your relationship with one would be totally different than with the other. But can you describe the special love you have for one over the other?

peter lumpkins

Chris,

What I am getting at is what Jesus actually said. He said God so loved the world that He gave... That's what He said. You start bringing in Limited Atonement and Irresistible Grace. Question: did Jesus say God so loved the world that He gave or did He say something else?

peter lumpkins

Ben,

First, you still have not cleared up the muddled confusion you wrote by suggesting "It is only speaking about the common love that God has for all of mankind. While this love is great, it’s not the fullness of God’s love." You dodged my reply by asserting something like "Good grief..You know what I meant." No, I don't know and explained it to you.

Second, I answered your question. I do not accept the proposed dichotomy you make about God supposedly having two kinds of love. I asked: "Do these supposed two kinds of love possess a different essence about them that makes them two separate kinds? Where in Scripture are these supposed two kinds of love split into two different kinds with two different essences?"

I'm afraid you're going to have to biblically justify two kinds of love with supposedly two kinds of essence.

Ben Simpson

Lydia,

I'm afraid that your illustration just doesn't fit because a man who never turns from His sin and believes on Jesus IS NOT one of God's sons.

Lydia

Ben, According to your doctrine, a man cannot turn from his sin and believe unless God decided he would . So, In your paradigm God has a special love for those he chose and those he does not have a special love for..... had no choice in the matter. So the entire point is moot.

Andrew Barker

Lydia, I thought your illustration was fine but in fact you could have used Jesus' parable of The Prodigal Son without tweeking it. I prefer to call it the Loving Father since it's as much about God's love to both sons rather than just the rebel prodigal. Two boys, Father loves them both the same. Need I say more!

Les Prouty

Andrew,

Please forgive me for attributng "When we tell people that 'Christ died for you'...we don't have to be liars, as the Calvinists (by necessity of their view) often are" to you. That liars accusation was from Old Adam.

As I said above, "I'll indulge you one time on this question:" I've done that and you could not refute that God loves His people (the church) in a different way than those who are not His people (not the church).

Blessings brother.

Lydia

"As I said above, "I'll indulge you one time on this question:" I've done that and you could not refute that God loves His people (the church) in a different way than those who are not His people (not the church"

Different way? What way since neither party had a choice? God chose their eternal destiny for them, according to your ST.

Les Prouty

Lydia,

"Different way? What way since neither party had a choice? God chose their eternal destiny for them, according to your ST."

Different way? What way? I referenced the passage. He "gave Himself for her." Ephesians 5 describes the way.

Mary S.

Accurate meme of several Traditionalists:

Says Calvinists are heretics and don't evangelize.

Yet Trad:

Quotes Charles Spurgeon on evangelism.

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