In this post we are going to contrast the ideas taken from Romans chapters 8-10, which contain key Predestination verses, with the ideas from some verses which would support a belief that God in Christ Jesus died for every man’s sin. In this I will take the view contained in the idea that God predestined some individuals knowingly, but not the majority without first knowing the final free will choosing of each one concerning the grace offered freely in the gospel to him by God. Thus God would be understood to offer salvation to any man who chooses to believe in and follow, even as they are drawn by the truth revealed by the Holy Spirit. I know that this is a middle ground position, not completely true to either Calvinist or Armenian.
And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn. 1:10-2:4).
19 Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: (Jer. 32:19).
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect (Matthew 5:43-48 NASB).
32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them (Luke 6:32 NASB).
When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves (Luke 23:33-34 NASB).
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned (John 15:4,6 NASB).
Preserve my soul, for I am a godly man; O You my God, save Your servant who trusts in You (Psalm 86:2 NASB).
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous (Romans 5:18-19).
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. — Romans 12:3
Why is there this seeming great gulf between the two camps within Christianity? The one seeing really no involvement from man at all in Salvation and the other seeing a free will acceptance of the Gospel which draws them and leads them to God’s free gift of salvation. The difference is very subtle and yet it is very great.
One side states the Gospel to be only for the chosen; the other sees it for anyone who believes. Why can it not mean all who believe are the chosen?
One side says that man is not presented a choice in the Gospel; the other sees in the Gospel a choice. Why can it not mean that in God’s Sovereign will some are given no choice?
One side sees choice to believe as being impossible due to man’s bondage to sin; the other believes as Paul stated it, that before the law came there was no bondage to sin. He says:
I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.
One side basically sees that in the end we really have no responsibility to God, because God has predestined us either to Salvation or to damnation; the other sees all men as completely responsible to God for their sin and for their indifference to His creation and His Grace, and as such totally accountable for sin. Why can we not see that man is totally accountable to God only when presented with the Gospel, but afterwards he is predestined depending on his response?
One side sees man’s response to the gospel as predetermined by God; the other sees each one individually responsible to hear and respond to the Holy Spirits call with belief, resulting in the gift of saving Faith. To not hear would result in unbelief and no gifting. A repeated refusal to hear will result in a hardness of heart.
I know good Christian believers, who believe in God’s provision through Jesus’ sacrifice for their sin, who are on opposing sides of this question of just how God determines to exercise His grace in the unsaved.
The Scriptural argument for each side is I believe strong as it is presented by each. Can these views be blended for one truth? Certainly not as each view is currently taught by their proponents at the very extremes of each. I personally have difficulty with totally ignoring one while totally accepting the other. In my own feeble way I have attempted to blend their meaning in past articles, but in doing so I also have failed to state why I don’t totally accept the Armenian view.
That view seems to tout sanctification as being sinlessness. Although I can see that we should not sin, we do. Sin occurs often even without our knowing it. Spiritually our flesh is dead to sin, but physically it has not yet died or been changed. “This mortal must put on immortality” (1 Cor. 15).
Even though we understand God to be omnipotent, still we see Him reserving the right to remove ones name from the book of life.
5 He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Revelation 3:5 NASB
Yet, it seems obvious that overcoming is only judged at the end of ones life, and the decision to erase or not to erase is left until that time. It is not made as a result of each sin, as the extreme Armenian view would dictate. James states it this way:
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.
James 1:12 NASB
Jesus makes it clear and Paul confirms His meaning, that there is one unforgivable sin. There are perhaps more but this one is made obvious by both Jesus and Paul. It is the act of denying our Lord. Jesus stated: if you deny me I will deny you before my Father. Paul both states this to be true and also explains why it is true:
If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:12-13 NASB).
Verse 13 is a most misunderstood statement. Calvinist attempt to make this into a reversal of what Paul has just said, but it’s true meaning is Jesus is faithful to His Father and the Word whom He is and cannot deny Himself. If the word says it, it is true. If the Father says it, it is true. He is both one with the Father and one with the Word. This faithfulness is only to us as it agrees with His word.
This denial of Jesus by man in place of overcoming as we are called to do is in effect following in the path of Israel when she divorced herself from Him. He had called out to her on many occasions but she would not come:
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling (Matthew 23:37 NASB).
So it is in this one verse we see the blending of God’s mercy and Grace to predestine with man’s will, a will that was free to follow as some did do, or to ignore as did the many. Can Gods grace and choosing be blended with mans free will? I find that the Bible is full of it.
God is no respecter of persons. It is His will that all would be saved. Yet He predestined that only those in Christ will see eternal life.
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh— for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God (Romans 8:1-2,10,12-14 NASB).
And yes it is also true that God has predestined all who are apart from Christ to eternal wrath as Paul states.
What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Romans 9:22 NASB)?
If one resists Christ it is he who hardens his heart, and it is then God who will give this one over to a reprobate mind.
Are there things that I still do not understand about God’s predestination of some in order to show Himself as The God over His creation? — absolutely. He has called and chosen a remnant to be saved. Yet scripture says: that He is no respecter of persons and that He’s Just and that He would that all would be saved. Pharaoh it is stated had no choice. All I can say is that scripture is true though every man be a lier.
I am convinced that God will not turn any man away no matter if chosen or coming of his own free will, because to do so would be to deny Himself and His word. We are according to scripture see men fall away in the last days. We are seeing this very thing occur. It will get worse. We are to work while it is day for the night comes when no man can work. Even so come Lord Jesus.