We are going to continue to look at more questions that come up when studying or discussing the subject of the Sovereignty of God and the Elect. One question that comes up often is “Did God send Yeshua for believers only or for the whole world?” If he came for believers only, that is called “Limited Atonement” and this view is supported by verses such as John 10.11-14; Mark 14.24; Rev 5.9; 2 Cor 5.14-15; Rom 6.3-11 and Col 3.3.
On the other hand, just because he died for believers doesn’t mean he didn’t die for the whole world as well (1 John 2.2; John 1.29; John 1.9). 2 Pet 2.1 says he “purchased” some who were false prophets who denied the “Master who bought them” bringing swift destruction upon themselves. In 1 Tim 2.6 and 4.10 it says he ransomed all men and is the savior of all men, “especially believers.” The heart of the matter is that we can be “purchased” but we must be “born again” and that is a whole other subject.
So, we believe that Yeshua died for the whole world but not all will be born again. Some will say that the Lord “is unfair or unjust if he saves some and not others.” First of all, we should not judge this issue on what the world says is fair or just. God would not be unjust if he didn’t save anyone, and he is not obligated to save anyone. His justice does not make sense to the world and how they see things (Matt 20.1-15). The Lord has a right to do whatever he wants.
Another question that comes up is “Isn’t he showing partiality if he saves some and not others?” Partiality is wrong when there are evil motives (Jam 2.1-9) and the heart of the Lord is good. He esteems humility, not pride. He judges each person according to their deeds and does not give any regard to their race, pedigree, wealth, charm, intelligence or position.
Now, this leads to another question, “How does God decide who gets saved?” First of all, we would have to understand the mind of God on this and that is impossible. We know that his choice is not based on anything that resides within us and it has nothing to do with works, good or bad (Rom 9.11-12). A person does not get saved because he has good works and he isn’t lost because he has bad works. A person is saved because he is born again from above, out of heaven, originating from him and it is a gift by his grace, through faith. It is not based on the free will of man, either (Rom 9.16; John 1.13). It is based on who he knows and loves (Eph 1.4-5). Now, he loves all men, but not in the same way. He chose Israel (Deut 7.7-8) based on love. He chooses to confound the wise (1 Cor 1.26-28) and chooses the poor (Jam 2.5; Luke 6.20, 18.24-25). So, his choice is based on love and his desire. This choice is not based on works or our “self-willed” love for him.
Another question that comes up when discussing this subject is “Does God hate some people?” There are some Scriptures that seem to indicate that in some cases he does (Psa 5.5-6; Jer 12.8; Lev 26..30; Rom 9.13; Psa 139.21-22). The Scriptures say he loves sinners, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t “hate”, but this is not to be understood in the sense that we understand what hate is. It relates to the idea that he “loves less.”
An example of this can be found in Rom 9.13 where it says that “Jacob I have loved, but Esau I hated” which merely means he “loved less” in comparison to Jacob. God loves all men, and he loves in many ways. In Luke 14.26 it says “If anyone comes to me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my talmid (disciple).” The word “hate” here is understood as “in comparison of his love for me.” The Lord does not hate the same way we do or in the way we understand the word. It does not exclude his love.
In Matt 5.44-45 God’s love for the wicked is expressed in his willingness to send the rain, sunlight and the necessities of life. Now, what do you think the Lord loves more than anything else in the world? The Scriptures say that God loves people very much, but he “loves” himself more in comparison (Dan 4.35). Man was created for his glory (Isa 43.6-7) and rescued Israel for his name sake, to show his power for all generations to see (Psa 106.7-8). When Israel got into trouble and was punished, why does he forgive and bring them back to the land (Ezek 36.22-23,32)? Why did he have a people to begin with (Jer 13.11)? What is the purpose of the second coming (1 Thes 1.9-10)? It says that he will deal with the sinners and also he will be “glorified in his saints” and he will be “marveled at” among all who have believed. This is why it is said that we exist for his glory, to please him and to bring him joy. That is why he is jealous.
The Lord loves his glory so much he gets jealous when we give it to another and that is the problem with idolatry. In the long run, he destroys those who will not give him glory. Once we understand this concept, things can be put in their proper perspective. That brings us to the question, “Is God selfish?” It is true that the Lord seeks his own glory in all things, intertwined with his love and wrath. But the Scriptures say “love does not seek its own (1 Cor 13.5).” What gift could God give to show his love? He gave himself because there is nothing greater (Psa 16.11) because that is all we need. He designed the system so that his glory is our good. We benefit when he seeks his own glory and we lose when he doesn’t. Being “good” means you love what is good and “hate” what is evil. It is not wrong to glorify the good, and God is good.
Therefore, it is not wrong for the Lord to glorify himself. If the Lord is more worthy of praise than man, then it is no wonder he glorifies himself more than man. Now the question arises, “Don’t we glorify God more if we have free will?” Let’s look at this question. The Lord doesn’t get glory from our choice of him, he gets glory from his choice of us! The glory comes in his action to a sinner like us. You don’t get glory because a fool chooses you, glory comes when the wise, all-knowing and powerful God chooses you. His glory is not based on our choices or approval. Many have wondered about the following question, “What happens to those who never hear the Basar (good news, gospel)?” Paul answers this in Rom 1.19-23. The things of God are evident within all men because he has made it evident to them from the beginning and his power and attributes can bee seen.
However, they did not honor him as God or give thanks because they became foolish in their speculations and their hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. If they are unfaithful in a little bit of knowledge that can clearly be seen about God, why should we suppose that they would be faithful with more knowledge? People are condemned for the same reason anyone is, they are sinners with no covering redeemer. If you seek the Lord, you will find him (Acts 10.4, 11.13-14) like Cornelius did. The Lord makes sure his elect hear the true Basar (gospel). On
Part 8, we will pick up here with a few more questions, and then begin deal with some problems with the belief in free will.