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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • « Understanding Hebrews 2:9 | Main | There is No God Seeker (Romans 3:11) »

    2 Peter 3:9 & John 12:30

    Question:

    Lets start with 2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow concerning his promise, ...as some regard slowness, but is being patient toward you, because he does not wish for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

    Now if I just took that verse by itself I would run to the Universal Redemption side. It certainly shows that it is not God's intention for any of his creatures to suffer an eternity apart from him.

    Then there is John 12:30 Jesus said, “This voice has not come for my benefit but for yours. 12:31 Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. 12:32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw ...all people to myself.” 12:33 (Now he said this to indicate clearly what kind of death he was going to die.)

    So if God does not want any to perish and it is his intention to draw all men to himself, but somehow this doesn't seem to be enough for some, the answer "the free will of man" to choose not to believe. We all get to make the choice because... God draws us to him and gives us all that we need in order to freely make the choice. This for the free will side is where the mystery stuff happens. How is it that God is able to enlighten man's soul to the brink of knowledge and faith, it leaves only one thing left to do, believe or not, the work is already done, all the effort spent, all the issues set aside, only one thing remains between God and man.

    Now if I take that verse well, it sounds like all men will be saved. But there are other verses that say different.

    Response:

    I can understand how you may have drawn the conclusions you have...but lets look at each in context.

    The desire for "all to come to repentance" is an imperative. The Bible says "God commands all men everywhere to repent and believe the gospel" (Acts 17:30) i.e. the repentance of man is an imperative (command), not an indicative (fact). A command does not show what we can do, but what we OUGHT to do. it is a conditional statement that asserts nothing indicatively. It would be a contradiction to say that God commands something that he does not want us to do. Likewise statements such as "be perfect", "if you are willing", "if you hear", "if you do" declare, not man's ability, but his duty. To infer "free will" from this, therefore, is simply importing a meaning in the text that is not there and confusing indicatives (facts) with imperatives (commands). Of course we agree that God wants all men to obey the command to repent. This is his preceptive will about what he wants man to do. Is says nothing about what God has done, or will do, or about man's ability. The command to believe does not imply ability. For instance, if I borrowed $100 million to establish a new company and instead squandered it in Vegas, my inability to repay the loan does not alleviate me of responsibility to do so. Likewise before God we owe a debt we cannot repay. Faith and good works are equally difficult without renewal of heart (Ezek 36:26).

    Consider this ..."Does it follow from God's command: 'turn' that therefore you can turn? Does it follow from "'Love the Lord thy God with all your heart' (Deut 6.5) that therefore you can love Him with all your heart? Does this mean you believe 'free-will' does not need the grace of God, but can do all things by its own power? It does not follow from this that man is converted by his own power, nor does it say so in the Text; they simply says: "if you will turn, telling man what he ought to do.

    Synergists,teach that 'salvation depends on human will', but the Bible teaches that (and I quote) 'it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy." (Rom 9:16) God commands repentance and belief but no do so ... only by his mercy do they come.

    As for for the Text "drawing all men to himself" (John 12:33) I believe you should take a closer look at the context. Jesus is speaking to Greeks, not Jews and it is clear from the context that he is referring to all nations. So when he says "when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to myself", he simply means that he will draw not only Jews but the Gentile nations as well, fulfilling the promise to Abraham that through him all the families of the earth will be blessed. In other words, Jesus does not say he will draw all men on earth without exception, but rather, he will draw all men without distinction. So because the context and use of words differs, it is inappropriate to interpret John 6 in light of John 12 ... (different conversations).

    Actually, in case you think I made this "without distinction" thing up, the apostle John often speaks this same way of nations and groups; consider John 11:49-52"

    "But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, "You know nothing at all. Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish." He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad."

    In other words, Caiaphas is referring to all people without distinction from every nation, not all people without exception on the earth. Not Jews only, but Jews and Gentiles who are scattered on the whole earth from every nation.

    Also, the text in John 6 which says ALL the Father gives to Jesus will come to him (6:37) makes your interpretation from John 12 an impossible supposition. Look carefully at John 6:65 -- No one can believe unless God grants it (universal negative) (John 6:37) All that the Father gives to me WILL come to me (universal positive). In other words, together it plainly states that no one can believe in Jesus unless God grants it and all whom he grants in Christ will believe. Jesus is careful to say that the Father first gives people to the son prior to their believing in him (V. 37). These versus dismantle any possibility that it means he will draw all without exception. John 6:44 must, therefore, be read in light of John 6:37 (in context), not John 12.

    We must thank God for all that we have, including the new heart to believe. We must not think that it was due to our own wisdom or prudence, or good will that God then responded to us. Grace is not a reward for faith, it is the cause of it.

    Note: I recognize another way of understanding 2 Peter 3:9 as speaking in context of the elect. I do not discount this interpretation. Many Reformed theologians point this out. But it is also true that God wants all to obey his command to repent - speaking of man's duty, not God's will of decree.

    Posted by John on September 17, 2011 05:20 PM

    Comments

    Your statement - is it your statement or someone else's statement you're quoting - The desire for "all to come to repentance" is an imperative is an oxymoron. How can 'desire' be an imperative? Did you mean 'come to repentance' is imperative for 'all people' to hear and obey? - That's another oxymoron. It is an infinitive. Same as 'so that all may come to repentance'. If all hear and follow what God commands an imperative, where does 'sin' itself come from?

    You say command so that one ought to? Ya, ya. But God's love is not something which can be forced. If it's forced, it's not love. Love has freedom on its flip-side. If human does not have freedom, well, it's like robots. It would be a perfect robotic world with no sin whatsoever. God does not pour (nor has to pour) His love on such 'things' (not 'persons'). Universalists are completely scxxed up in their thinking and logic.

    "Draw all toward Himself", yes, one can draw a horse to a water hole, but no way you can force it to drink. When we come to Him, it's our choice to respond and to be His, to abide in Him. It's our response to God's love. This itself is by His grace. It's not our pre-destinedness according to His programming in our soul/brain/mind/heart/spirit.

    ounbbl

    Thank you for your post. I did not say God's desire was an imperative... I said the thing he wants us to do (repentance) is an imperative. Repentance is an imperative because it is man's action, not God's. When God gives imperatives such as repentance it is his preceptive will and so what he "wants" us to do does not always come to pass --- "Love God with all your heart" and "repent" both fall under the same category of imperatives. Do you always love God with all your heart? God desires that you obey him .. he desires that all men love him with all their heart. But this does not come to pass. All men have failed to do so.

    Next you said, "But God's love is not something which can be forced. If it's forced, it's not love. Love has freedom on its flip-side."

    Is this your unaided logic or did you find this in the Bible? As an everyday example which show just the opposite to be true... If two disobedient toddlers ran out into the street into oncoming traffic, the first parent stood at the curb and called out to the toddler to use his/her will to get out of the way but would not lift a finger to help unless the child asked. The second parent ran out into the street at the risk of his/her life scooped up the child and made certain he was safe. which parent loved their child? Answer: The parent who got the job done. The parent knew better than the child what was good for him ... so what you call violating the will, the bible calls love. That is what real love looks like... not the parent who only loves if we meet certain conditions.

    What kind of a parent sets conditions for his love. In your scheme the parent only loves the child if it jumps though hoops. I will only save you if you do this. But parental love in daily life is not this way. How much more God's? He may give us conditions because he is holy but he meets those conditions for us in Christ.

    You appear to be attributing your repenting and believing to your own wisdom, prudence, sound judgment, or good sense, rather than God's grace in Christ ...Give God the glory. He gives us everything we need for salvation, including a new heart to believe.

    As for John 6:44 you interpret it out of context by appealing to John 12 which is speaking of Gentiles ... when John 6:37, the same context already answers it. It says all that the Father gives the Son will believe. Not some. All.

    I noticed that all of your arguments appealed to extra-biblical logic and not to the Scripture itself. Your believe in priority of free will to be able to love -- that love cannot be forced. Why not consider looking to the Bible for answers rather than your church tradition?

    John,

    excellent reply!

    When you wrote, "what parent", my spirit leaped and thought of this Word:

    Pro 12:10 Whoever is righteous has regard for the life of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.

    While both the Righteous and the wicked live together in this fallen world, the Righteous tend to act from the Logic of Our Heavenly Father and the wicked, theirs!

    Someone had attached some kind of porn pop-up on this page that we had a hard time getting to close. You might want to check that.

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