In my last post we saw some things that the Calvinists seem to be right about. God is all powerful, and God has chosen certain people as His elect. Sounds like bad news for the reprobate (Calvin’s not so flattering term for the non-elect).
Arminius was sort of the anti-Calvin. He was repelled by the idea that God would damn some to eternal conscious torment just because He could. He insisted that God is love and does not desire that any should be damned forever. Sounds good, but does Arminius have any scripture to back up this claim? How about these:
The LORD is good to everyone; His compassion rests on all He has made. (Psa 145:9 HCSB)
Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God, and there is no other. (Isa 45:22 HCSB)
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (Joh 1:29 HCSB)
For in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’ (Act 17:28 HCSB)
But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! (Rom 5:8 HCSB)
Okay, okay . . . I could go on with this for a while. I like these verses; don’t you? Perhaps Calvin was mistaken about the “God doesn’t love everyone” thing. But did God ever intend to save everyone? Well, it kind of follows. But let’s see, all the same . . .
That is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed the message of reconciliation to us. (2Co 5:19 HCSB)
for this is ideal and welcome in the sight of our Saviour, God, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth. (1Ti 2:3-4 CLV)
The Lord is not tardy as to the promise, as some are deeming tardiness, but is patient because of you, not intending any to perish, but all to make room for repentance.” (2Pe 3:9 CLV)
Again, there are many more. There is more than plenty of scriptural confirmation of God’s love toward His entire creation and His desire to save all people. But Arminians already know this. The problem, say they, is that God doesn’t always get what He wants. Do you always do what He wants? God is limited by His own regard for the free will He has granted to us, His creatures, and cannot transgress lest He transgress love. How can a robot truly love?
Yet scripture tells us (some of them listed in my last post on this topic) that God will do whatever He desires and nothing can stop Him. Notice I’ve had to switch to the Concordant Literal Version for the last two verses (above). Other translations weaken “wills” and “intends” to merely “wants” and “wishes.” What if what God’s desire (as scripture certainly seems to say) is to save all people, and He also means to do it, and can do it–all without violating free will?
But I am not forgetting about the elect, who are mentioned often in Paul, nor about Paul’s race for the prize. I will sew all this up (I hope) in my next installment.
Don’t touch that dial! . . .