We have established the fact that the Lord controls all things and we have also shown that he controls thoughts and actions and determines who will be saved. Now we are going to discuss some questions that may come up in discussing this subject. Look up all the scriptures we have provided to get an accurate picture of what we have presented in the Introduction and Part 1, and also what we will present in the following segments.
In dealing with this subject, one may ask whether or not God loves all men the same based on John 3.16. But, this verse talks about how the Lord is reluctant to punish sinners and takes no joy in it (Ezek 18.23-32; Lam 3.33; Isa 30.8; Ezek 33.11, 18.31; Isa 65.2; Jer 13.17) but the fact remains that one must be born again. We must come to grips with the fact that God’s love is not one type of love, just like when talking about human love. If it is true for man, how much more does it apply to the Lord.
God has unconditional love for his creation, especially man, but he also has conditional love for those that obey him (John 15.10; Rom 8.33-39; Jude 21). A person may be “loved” by the Lord in the sense he loves all his creatures but he may exclude some from his “electing” love (Rom 9.13; Psa 11.5). It is possible that God “loves less” in comparison to others. He has rich and diverse “emotions” so to speak.
Now, how that divine “emotion” exists from all eternity is one of the mysteries that is hard for us to comprehend, but that doesn’t mean it is not there or does not exist. God gets “angry” over sin everyday (Psa 7.11) yet rejoices when one repents (Luke 1.5.7; 10.23). He will “grieve” over the wicked speech of his people (Eph 4.29-30) yet takes pleasure over them everyday (Psa 149.4). He “laughs” at the wicked (Psa 37.13) and “weeps” over them (Jer 13.17). He has attributes and shows his “electing” love to some and not to others. We cannot put one claim from the Bible against another. He is far too complex for that.
Some will say “Election is based on the foreknowledge of God” or in other words, he knew who would have faith, so he saved them. However, Rom 8.29 says that he knew the person, not the faith of that person. All of Rom 8.29-30 is God’s action toward that person, not man’s action toward God. The Scriptures speak of the Lord knowing that person (Gen 18.18; Amos 3.2) and in both cases the Hebrew word “yada” is used (Exo 33.17; Jer 1.5, 20.7-10).
Yeshua is the perfect example of the concept of “election” or “predestination” (Luke 4.43; John 12.27). For God to “know” us shows a relationship of commitment, he knows who his elect are (Matt 7.23). God is determined to save his elect (1 Pet 1.2) and he set his grace and favor on them and chose them based on his determination to do so before the world was created.
Yeshua was handed over to the Jewish leaders and the Romans because God set his purpose and foreknowledge to do just that (Acts 2.23). The chessed (grace) of God brings emunah, or faith (Eph 2.8-9; Phil 1.29; 2 Pet 1.1). Man cannot “manufacture” this faith on his own (John 1.13) but it comes as a free gift through his chessed (grace). If faith is a gift, so is repentance (2 Tim 2.25-26; Acts 11.18) and it is given to “some” (2 Thes 3.2). It is impossible for God to see our faith and then predestine us based on that. Faith is not something that is self-engineered (or begins with us). The Scriptures teach that God was devoted from eternity to some and he set his favor on them.
Now, let’s briefly deal with the concept of whether or not God tempts men to sin. This is a complex concept because the Scriptures are complex. In James 1.13-14 it says that he does not tempt men to sin, but this cannot mean that he never “causes” men to sin. He does not entice men to sin, their own evil desires do that, but let’s see how this concept fits in with our subject. Ezekiel talks about God “luring” false prophets to speak blasphemies (Ezek 14.9-10). David was “moved” by Satan to number the people in 2 Sam 24.1-10 and 1 Chron 21.1. God used Satan to fulfill his purposes in this matter, much like he did with Joseph’s brothers in Gen 50.20.
The Lord may not be the “immediate” cause, but he uses other “agents” to fulfill his will. Job is struck by Satan (Job 1.12) but he did not charge God with wrong doing (Job 1.22). Technically it was not the Lord that struck him, but he did have the ultimate say. God sends an evil spirit against Abimelech and Shechem to sin against Abimelech (Judges 9.23). An evil spirit torments Saul (1 Sam 16.14). The Lord sends an evil spirit and it causes Saul to try and kill David (1 Sam 19.9-10).
1 Kings 22.19-23 gives us a glimpse into the heavenly council and kingship of the Lord. Evil spirits come and go at the command of the Lord to make people lie, especially false prophets. This alludes to the false prophets today (Mark 1.27). In 1 Cor 12.7 Paul has a “thorn in the flesh” which is a messenger (angel, sent one) from Satan to “buffet” him. These are just a few examples to show us that the Lord is the ultimate power, but he doesn’t tempt men to sin as we understand the word “tempt.” He uses evil creatures and that shows us that he is the ultimate control of all his creatures. It can properly be said that he can “incite” us to sin even if the immediate cause is Satan, demons or our own evil desires. So, it is proper and good for us to say “deliver us from evil or the evil one” (Matt 6.9-13).
In Part 3 we will begin to discuss the question concerning whether God would be unjust to choose to save some and not others and move on to other subjects that will help us understand the concept of the sovereignty of God and the Elect.