Just another Christian - All to be saved?
One day, about thirteen years ago, I stumbled upon a website which published for free a web book concerning the coming Apostasy in Christianity.
First I started reading online, then I started printing off chapters to read at leisure, and give to other believers to read, then I contacted the 'author' to buy a case of these books to get them out to my friends.
To say it changed my life would be an understatement.
The author simply called himself J.A.C. which I learned referred to 'Just another Christian' in a simple attempt to remain anonymous, not from any fear of exposure, but to ensure that nobody built any following around him.
In the many intervening years, we have corresponded frequently, and he and his 'family' (a lose group of believers who live in community of fellowship with each other) have visited with me.
I know this man pretty well.
JAC is one of those folk who came to faith in the 70's, originally from the 'Jesus Freak' movement, and then studied to be approved.
He's a very ordinary farmer from Tennessee, who has been given a exceedingly clear understanding of scripture.
If the words 'Eat this scroll ' mean anything, they refer to him! - He has consumed the whole book several times, probably hundreds and the bible forms an integral part of his life, indeed it is his life!
But this man did not stop there, he then progressed to reading virtually every part of all the works available from the church fathers, and then most every believer that ever wrote a thesis on what God has told us in his word.
Holding an email discussion with him is to say the least interesting, for he will continue presenting his evidence that supports his stance until proven wrong or proven right.
He is normally right, or at least 'more right' when he writes.
Not infallible, indeed he will openly confess his failings and errors, but when he is right, he really is right!
At the end of what follows I have given some contact details that anybody who wishes will be able to use for further discussion.
If you have read that far, you probably deserve to get in touch with him!
What follows is one small correspondence from him to 'the list' which answers a vexing question.
The 'list' is a long time debate list that has about fifty members, who are united in their fellowship, despite being scattered all across the world.
It's open to anybody, but it's a tough list to belong to if your mouth flaps before your brain has consumed the scroll!
JAC uses CAPS and BLOCK CAP for emphasis, as an old typesetter this infuriates me, but I leave his words intact as written.
I was wondering if you guys had any insight on this passage as far as it relates to predestination.
Someone I have been arguing the issue with keeps bringing this back up.
They don't see how God can will all men to be saved and yet choose those who He will save. I'm not exactly sure how to handle this one.
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (1Ti 2:4)
1 Timothy 2:1-6
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;
Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.
How does "safety and orderliness " in society contribute to anyone's salvation? WE KNOW that many/most conversions come at the end of some realization or experience of dismay and fear about life in the world.
My conversion came that way. I was well and safe physically, but in utter dismay about the corrupt and brutal social order of humanity and my part in it.
I was in dismay about the evil of my own nature. I knew that I could not and did not DARE to love anyone, because both them AND I were too treacherous to be trusted. SOZO (to save ) or SOTERIO (salvation ) are not essentially religious words.
They simply mean "rescued " in the simplest sense of the language.
Rescued FROM WHAT is set by context. In this place, it is merely rescued from disorder, anarchy, poverty, pain and war.
The TRUTH promotes orderliness and decency in the world - as much of the truth as the world will accept.
STABLE MARRIAGES with healthy, safe, non-criminal children are a product of The Truth. Now you can either OPPOSE Romans 9 to 1Timothy 2 and make both meaningless, or you can allow them to address different matters.
The idea that God "wishes He COULD " save all men while yet He cannot is antithetical to having faith at all. It presents a God Who CANNOT REACH YOU at your point of greatest need for some reason or other - and such a thought is sheer terror to someone who is needy before God - like I am.
2 Pet 3:9 KJV
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
The attention in each case is on the word "all " (pas - Grk) - (same word used in 2 Peter 3:9)
pav pas pas
including all the forms of declension; TDNT-5:886,795; adj
AV-all 748, all things 170, every 117, all men 41, whosoever 31, everyone 28, whole 12, all manner of 11, every man 11, no + 3756 9, every thing 7, any 7, whatsoever 6, whosoever + 3739 + 302 3, always + 12233, daily + 2250 2, any thing 2, no + 3361 2, not tr 7, misc 26; 1243
1a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
2a) some of all types
COMMENT BY CHARLES SPURGEON
..." the whole world has gone after him" Did all the world go after Christ? "then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan." Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordan? "Ye are of God, little children", and the whole world lieth in the wicked one". Does the whole world there mean everybody? The words "world" and "all" are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the "all" means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts --some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile ... (C.H. Spurgeon from a sermon on Particular Redemption) END QUOTE
I do not presume that God made men as toys-for-torment.
I do not believe that God divided men up between saved and doomed without any respect to the individual persons.
But neither can I deny that the word PREDESTINATION is used in continuous reference to The Saints, which word would be senseless if it was not meant to distinguish some from others. If all are predestined to eternal life (as some say), and some do not obtain eternal life, then they were not predestined.
They were only given an INVITATION .
If I were to use that word PREDESTINED in any other context, you would know that it refers to INEVITABILITY ,not POSSIBILITY.
Those who "don't make it" are never referred to as being PREDESTINED TO ETERNAL LIFE, but only the (going to be) Saints are referred to in this way.
The word PREDESTINED ought to be replaced with the word "INVITED" if all that is meant is, "everyone gets an invitation".
(Rom 8:30 KJV) Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.
So - did God really do all these things with the unsaved?
Are they glorified?
Is there some kind of hypothetical glorification being presented here, that may never be realized? If predestination to eternal life is universal to the human race, then they were ALL also called; justified and glorified.
The PROBATIONIST will say that PREDESTINATE and CALLED are true for every single person - actually true - they all got the equal and same level of opportunity and convicting influence of the Holy Ghost in this life.
But the latter two things.... JUSTIFIED and GLORIFIED, they will say are not actual and practically real (or even potentially real) until and unless the man responds acceptably to being PREDESTINED and CALLED.
Is that the intended message of Romans 8:30?
Are the PREDESTINATION and the CALL present, real and actual for every man, while the JUSTIFICATION and GLORIFICATION are only potential for every man?
Is THAT what the above seems to be intending to communicate?
If PREDESTINATION is finally and utterly dependant upon what men would do with God's offer of salvation, then it is not PREDESTINATION - it is merely the holding forth of a universalinvitation .
But in our case, it is is as if God holds out His invitation to a dead man, for we neither recognize nor can react to God's invitation without being "revived" first.
But that is another matter (though connected ).
I propose that we go back again to Romans 8:29, and see if there is a resolution there (I say there is ).
(Rom 8:29 KJV) For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.
Here, it is not said that God "foreknew" ALL (every single human that would ever live ) - but "whom" - meaning individuals. God foreknew something about every individual. On the basis of whatever it was that God foreknew, He PREDESTINATED some to be called; justified, and glorified.
From this, we deduce that GOD HAS A REASON for PREDESTINATING some to eternal life, and not others. This reason becomes the just basis for God's decision, and removes the horrific image of a merely arbitrary God, Who, without any reference whatsoever to what a man was or hoped or wished or would do - simply decided to DAMN a lot of them DESPITE THEMSELVES while saving so many others.
Now what is this thing that God foreknew?
We are not told - but in order to satisfy those who demand that man have unfettered free will in respect to salvation, I will present this. GOD (at least) KNEW who would be amenable to His salvation, and on that basis, before these were ever born, God SET THEM UP TO BE SAVED.
So I will answer to the 2 scriptures above (1 Timothy 2:4 & 2 Peter 3:9 - the only 2 that can be used this way in the whole Bible ) by saying that God had a generally beneficent good will to to His entire creation, but in order to make sons and daughters that He could fellowship with in the truest sense, He had to create the power and potential for evil in men and angels.
Did God "cast the dice" on this and then discover after the fact which way each man would come out?
The thought is hard to grasp - but if nothing is impossible with God, I suppose that God could hide a future outcome from Himself for a moment, if He so pleased, and then "learn" what that outcome would be, later.
I do believe that God can create a free will - for if He cannot, He is restricted.
But I also believe that God can restrict and confine that free will.
The scripture texts which either bluntly assert, presume or conclude in PREDESTINATION are numerous (you have seen some in this debate).
These 2 texts (1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9 ) must be HARMONIZED with all those predestination texts, just as those predestination texts must be harmonized with 1 Timothy 2:4 and 2 Peter 3:9.
The tougher job....
The tougher job (by far ), is to try and make the predestination texts agree with the idea that every man, upon coming into the world, was just as likely to be saved as every other man.
Try to do that with these:
(John 6:37 KJV) All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
(Gal 1:15 KJV) But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb , and called me by his grace,
Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.
Thou wilt say then unto me , Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?
Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God ? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?
Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?
What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentile s?
I could really stack these up - you may have seen already how many there are - in BOTH Testaments.
Here is the single Bible verse that Martin Luther built his case for election and predestination from:
(Rom 9:16 KJV) So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy.
"It" (salvation ) is NOT "of" (from; subject to ) him that "willeth " (decides ) nor of him that "runneth " (makes an effort; pursues ) but of God that showeth mercy.
The problem with PREDESTINATION has always been that the opponents of this doctrine always insist that IF there is such a thing, then it makes God into a brutal and unfair God.
But what if PREDESTINATION is completely reconciled with God's utter fairness?
What if God, FOR GOOD (justifiable ) REASONS predestined some to salvation while not predestining others ?
The opposers say that I am (by preaching predestination) making God into a brutal monster - but I am not calling God a brutal monster - THEY ARE.
Predestination does not make God into brutal monster to me!
My God (the God that PREDESTINED me to salvation ) is only a BRUTAL MONSTER to those who disagree (with my doctrine of predestination).
They call my God a brutal monster , and then they accuse me of making God Himself into a brutal monster.
They are actually (therefore ) accusing me of making THEIR GOD into a brutal monster, and that is why they are so outraged.
For some reason or other, they innately conclude that if the saved are PREDESTINED to salvation..... they either might be or must be LEFT OUT , and thus, they are outraged (not just in disagreement - have you noticed? ).
I don't know about their god, whether he is brutal monster or not.
If THEIR GOD is not a brutal monster, then they have nothing to worry about, for certainly a "fair God " will gladly receive and affirm such piously disposed persons as themselves, who have Both WILLED and RAN with ALL THEIR MIGHT.
So, there is nothing to worry about for either of us........... right?
I'll get my salvation as a "gift " and they'll get their's as a reward for how hard they tried.
Fine with me.
OH, and by the way.... the Lord did add this:
(2 Tim 2:19 KJV) Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.
IF someone is "His ", they will and can take the counsel.
..........oops....... I almost forgot to plug in that all important proof text for, "IF someone is "His", they will and can take the counsel."
(John 10:27 KJV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
- Apostasy Now - About Us
We aren't any one person or group and we are certainly not trying to form a new denomination. We are just some of the members of the One Body of Christ. We consider ourselves to be typical of those Christians who have recognized the present Apostasy