Answers to FB Questions

I’ve been in a dialog with a FB friend whom I also know somewhat in person (she’s the friend of a friend from Phoenix).  She is a fellow Christian but holds to the Arminian heresies regarding the Gospel and Salvation.  Following are her Original Post (OP) and my answers to her.

“Here are some issues I don’t think you’ve clearly addressed regarding Calvinism. Or maybe you have, but not to me. If God has already decided who’s saved and who isn’t, how does your reaching out and evangelizing make any difference? Even if a person never heard about the Bible, wouldn’t that person still go to heaven because God predestined it? Why do you need to preach? And if nothing happens outside of God’s will, why try to stop abortions? Or stop anything? If God predestined an abortion, it’ll happen regardless, right? And lastly, why do you get upset with non-Christians? If they’re incapable of believing in God, why blame them for their evil ways? Why blame them for being prideful and stubborn? They can’t be anything but. And why does God only love a small amount of people? By making it impossible for most people to go to heaven, He doesn’t love everyone. That’s a sad way to view God… Why does the Bible say that He wants everyone to be saved? He makes sure that most people don’t even have the option of choosing Him.”

And here are my replies.

First reply:

Michael Fernandez Those are some good, though common objections/questions Abra. I will see what I can do in this limited format, however, if you would be willing to PM me your mailing address, I would like to send you a free copy of a small book called the “The Five Dilemmas of Calvinism” by Craig R. Brown. Also, I would recommend the following online resources that are also ‘free’ to download.
1.) A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God” which addresses each of your questions/objections. It can be found here:
http://www.reformed.org/books/pink/index.html

2.) Lorraine Boettner’s, “The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination” the book that I first read in hard cover format that revealed to me that I had already become a Calvinist even while not knowing what a Calvinist or Calvinism was. This book can be accessed here:
https://www.monergism.com/reformed-doctrine…

Ok, now to work on my own answers, humble though they may be in comparison to the above works. I will present them when I have finished writing them which I hope will be tonight or tomorrow.

And here is my longer second reply:

To begin, let’s enumerate your questions and see if they have any commonalities.

  1. If God has already decided who’s saved and who isn’t, how does your reaching out and evangelizing make any difference?
    1. Even if a person never heard about the Bible, wouldn’t that person still go to heaven because God predestined it?
    2. Why do you need to preach?
  2. And if nothing happens outside of God’s will,
    1. why try to stop abortions?
    2. Or [try to stop] anything?
  3. If God predestined an abortion, it’ll happen regardless, right?
  4. Why do you get upset with non-Christians?
    1. If they’re incapable of believing in God, why blame them for their evil ways?
    2. Why blame them for being prideful and stubborn? They can’t be anything but.
  5. And why does God love only a small amount of people? By making it impossible for most people to go to heaven, He doesn’t love everyone.
    1. That’s a sad way to view God.
  6. Why does the Bible say that He wants everyone to be saved? He makes sure that most people don’t even have the option of choosing Him.

Questions 1 and 2 including their sub sections, are related in that they ask “why” do we, you, me, Believers in general do certain things if the outcome is already predetermined or predestined.  Well, the simplest and yet most profound answer is because God tells us to do so.  He tells us to reach out, to evangelize, to preach, to warn, and that He does so is, or should be sufficient cause for us to do so.  Now does that mean we can’t seek to understand more fully the reason(s) why, if such a reason (or reasons) was comprehensible to us?  No, on the contrary we should always be seeking to know more about our Lord and God that we might both fear and love Him for the Great and Awesome God that He is.
So, yes, we preach, evangelize, we reach out to the lost, even knowing that the number of those who will be saved is already fixed.  But, while God knows who will and will not be saved, we don’t.  Further, just as God has predestined His elect for salvation, He as also predestined the means by which they will be saved.  We find this in Romans.

Rom 10:13-17 HCSB

(13)  For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

(14)  But how can they call on Him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about Him? And how can they hear without a preacher?

(15)  And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who announce the gospel of good things!

(16)  But all did not obey the gospel. For Isaiah says, Lord, who has believed our message?

(17)  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.

 

Note if you will, this brief passage answers all the first two main and sub questions. Our reaching out with the Gospel does make a difference because God causes it to, verse 14, 15.  Compare this also with 1st Corinthians 3:5-7 HCSB

(5)  What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? They are servants through whom you believed, and each has the role the Lord has given.

(6)  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.

(7)  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.

So, you see, the means, preaching is determined by God to be the means He wishes to use, while at the same time not leaving the result in our feeble hands.

The Romans 10 passage also deals with those who never hear the Gospel question, asking the rhetorical question, how shall they call on Him in whom they don’t believe?  And how shall they believe in Him of whom they’ve never heard?  The answer, of course is, “They can’t,” just that plain and simple.  In short, God not only predetermines the end result but also the means to that end.

Now to question 2 and it’s related subsections, “And if nothing happens outside of God’s will,

  1. Why try to stop abortions?
  2. Or [try to stop] anything?”

That’s a good question.  The primary reason, imo, is that as we (believers) are called to be salt and light in this sin filled world –

Mat 5:13-16 HCSB

(13)  “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt should lose its taste, how can it be made salty? It’s no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled on by men.

(14)  “You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden.

(15)  No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.

(16)  In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.

 

  • We have a duty to act, to strive against the influences of the dark. Now we know that salt does two things well, it act as a preservative of food, to slow down the decay, and it adds savor to foods, increasing our delight in them.  It also does another thing, it can be used to cleans a wound, or aggravate one, i.e. cause irritation.  Now in the spiritual realm, we are to be salt. We are to act a preserving agents, preserving or defending against moral decay/corruption in our societies/communities.  We are also to show, by our manner of living and enjoying life in Christ, that there is great joy to be found in the Christian life.  Furthermore, knowing the irritating quality of salt on wounds, we know that our message and lifestyle will cause discomfort to those lost in sin when we are acting our part as salt in their presence.  These qualities are used by God in two manners. 1.- To cause the elect to become so uncomfortable in their sin that they begin to seek some relief, preparing them to receive the Gospel.  – To harden the non-elect in their sin, making them more antagonistic toward the Gospel and its Author.  The reality of the sun and its light and how it affects clay and wax comes to mind.  The same sun that hardens clay, (non-elect), softens wax (the elect).  The difference being in what they are made of.  All people begin as clay, sin loving, God hating, clay.  But when God regenerates them, giving them a new heart or nature, they are transformed into wax, and now, instead of being hardened by the sun (the Gospel) they become softened, receptive to it.

Likewise, light.  We strive against the sins of the world just as light strives against the darkness. Where there is light, darkness cannot remain.  We strive against abortion and other moral darkness to bring light in their place.

How does this relate to God God’s will?  First it is God’s will that we be salt and light and act accordingly.  Second, goes back to the fact that God not only ordains the ends, but also the means to accomplish said ends.  Scipture teaches this principal that if we don’t preach the Gospel, the stones themselves would do so. Luk 19:39-40 HCSB

(39)  Some of the Pharisees from the crowd told Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.”

(40)  He answered, “I tell you, if they were to keep silent, the stones would cry out!”

 

Now to your 3rd question. “If God predestined an abortion, it’ll happen regardless, right?”  That is a difficult question to answer in a short manner.  In a way, the answer is yes.  But at the same time, we have to be careful about this.  While nothing happens outside of God’s will, whether decretive or permissive, God is never the author of sin, which abortion is.  Sinful women kill their babies and commit all manner of other sins, just as sinful men rape women, and commit all manner of other sins.  Sinners sin, that’s in their nature.  Now, God, while not being the author of sin, does allow it to happen for His own purposes, according to His Divine Wisdom, and for His Ultimate Praise and Glory.  As to abortion, we, not knowing God’s ultimate plan for any individual, must strive against it.  We may be successful or we may fail, either result according to His will.  We don’t know but that by allowing a specific abortion, God prevented a greater evil from happening.  Moreover, believing that all infants who die are received immediately into glory, God may have kept that particular soul from a life of sin.  Consider for example the decree that the Israelites should go to the Amalekites and kill every last man, woman, and Child.  1Sa 15:2-3 HCSB

(2)  This is what the LORD of Hosts says: ‘I witnessed what the Amalekites did to the Israelites when they opposed them along the way as they were coming out of Egypt.

(3)  Now go and attack the Amalekites and completely destroy everything they have. Do not spare them. Kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and donkeys.'”

 

Why would a loving God who wants “everyone” to be saved order such a thing?  Because He wants His own, His elect, every one of them, to be saved from sin and from the penalty of it.  How does this relate?  Consider what the Lord said before this as to why these people had to be killed, Deu 20:16-18 HCSB

(16)  However, you must not let any living thing survive among the cities of these people the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance.

(17)  You must completely destroy them–the Hittite, Amorite, Canaanite, Perizzite, Hivite, and Jebusite–as the LORD your God has commanded you,

(18)  so that they won’t teach you to do all the detestable things they do for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.

 

Note particularly verse 18.  “So that they won’t teach you to do all the detestable things they do for their gods, and you sin against the LORD your God.”  Now, we know that the wages of sin is death, so all those of age who had sinned were deserving of death.  No big problem there, they got Justice from God, not mercy or grace.  But what about the young children and infants?  Again we have this comfort regarding them that they would be immediately taken to be with God, whereas left alive in the culture of the day, most if not all of them would have grown up in the sins of their fathers, waxing worse and worse and heaping greater and greater punishment upon themselves in the day of judgment.

Your 4th question and subsets –

Why do you get upset with non-Christians?

  1. If they’re incapable of believing in God, why blame them for their evil ways?
  2. Why blame them for being prideful and stubborn? They can’t be anything but.

Well, I personally don’t get upset with “non-Christians” as such.  With some of the things they do, yes, with them personally, not often.  Why blame them for the things they do?  Because they are responsible for what they do.  While it’s true that they can’t be anything but sinners, they don’t have to sin as much as they do.  They choose sin and they choose the degree of sin all by themselves.  God doesn’t force them to do so.  Furthermore, related to blame, God says they are to blame for their evil ways, and I’m not arguing with Him on that (or any other matter).
Rom 1:18-32 HCSB

(18)  For God’s wrath is revealed from heaven against all godlessness and unrighteousness of people who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth,

(19)  since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them.

(20)  For His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made. As a result, people are without excuse.

(21)  For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their thinking became nonsense, and their senseless minds were darkened.

(22)  Claiming to be wise, they became fools

(23)  and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.

(24)  Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity, so that their bodies were degraded among themselves.

(25)  They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served something created instead of the Creator, who is praised forever. Amen.

(26)  This is why God delivered them over to degrading passions. For even their females exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones.

(27)  The males in the same way also left natural relations with females and were inflamed in their lust for one another. Males committed shameless acts with males and received in their own persons the appropriate penalty of their error.

(28)  And because they did not think it worthwhile to acknowledge God, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong.

(29)  They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed, and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, quarrels, deceit, and malice. They are gossips,

(30)  slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents,

(31)  undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, and unmerciful.

(32)  Although they know full well God’s just sentence–that those who practice such things deserve to die–they not only do them, but even applaud others who practice them.

 

Note particularly verses 18 and 20, “by their unrighteousness” not God’s, and that they are “without excuse” meaning, they are to blame for their sins.

  1. Your 5th question, and subsets –
  2. And why does God love only a small amount of people? By making it impossible for most people to go to heaven, He doesn’t love everyone.
  3. That’s a sad way to view God.

Well, first of all, while compared to the vast numbers of all people who have ever lived, are living, will live, yes the number of people is small.  Nonetheless, it is not a small amount.  If one factors in all the babies and toddlers who never lived to the age of accountability, as well as all the other elect of God, there will be a vast number of people inhabiting heaven in the end.

As for making it impossible for most people to get to heaven, you comment that God doesn’t’ love everyone.  That’s true, but it’s not a “sad way to view God.”  That comment is but a reflection of your own human tendency toward sin and pride, as if you or I can judge God.  God does not love everyone without exception.  True, but that is not a poor reflection on God.  That God loves anyone at all is the true measure of His Love and Goodness for none of us “deserve” His love, none of us is “lovable.”  Here are some notes from my own study notes to the Psalms on this particular point.

11:5 The Lord’s Hate
●           v. 5, “the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.”  Cf. Psalm 5:5 and note.

●           That God hates something or someone or, types of some ones, does not negate the fact that “God is love” (cf. 1st John 4:8) or, that “God so loved the world.”  (Cf. John 3:16).

●           That God hates or loves, demonstrates that He is a being with emotions, feelings.  That being the case, with us, the sin is not in having an emotional reaction to something, but rather, what we do with or about that emotion.  Cf. Psalm 4:4 and Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry and do not sin.”  Anger, an emotion, is not inherently sinful.  Our reaction to or, use of anger can be.  An emotion that is fed unjustly or in an unrighteous manner also produces sin.  For example, prejudice on racial grounds is unjust, irrational, and leads to mistreatment of or misjudging of others.

●           That God hates, loves, feels, is what makes Him capable of and desirous of having a relationship with us.  It is also why He was able to make a provision for our salvation, as, on our own, we could never enter His perfect presence.

●           Compare Proverbs 3:32ff, esp. v 33.

Q. – If God is love [and He is, cf. 1st  John 4:8], can God hate anyone as opposed to anything?

AA.) Yes.  God can hate people, anyone, someone.  It says very clearly here; God hates “the wicked” [general category or type of person] “and the one who loves violence” [specific type of wicked person].

A.  B1.) If God can hate anyone, then a universalistic application of John 3:16 “For God so loved the world” would be made false.  If God really does hate anyone, He cannot [by default] love EveryOne.

A.  B2.) If God does not love everyone, then He did not send His Son to die for EveryOne; on account of, yes, for everyone, no.  That is to say; Jesus’ death on the cross accomplished exactly what it was meant to accomplish; the salvation of the elect, the ones God does love. It also accomplished the condemnation of the non-elect, the ones God hates.  In either case, it was effective in accomplishing God’s purposes.

Q. – What about the saying, “Love the sinner; hate the sin.”?

Answer.) That saying applies only to us, and our attitudes.  We do not know the heart of anyone, or the eternal calling of anyone.  Only God does.  And therefore, only God is qualified to hate the sinner as well as their sin, without violating His own nature.

Q. – What about those who, before [in time] they were saved, were sinners; were enemies of God and of Christ (cf. Romans 5:18, 10)?  And, is there a distinction between the “garden variety sinner” [so to speak] called elsewhere, the “unrighteous person” [to use Paul’s terminology in 1st Corinthians 6:9), and the “wicked” (cf. Proverbs 16:4)?

A.) In regard to those who were “sinners,” “enemies of Christ,” this in itself does not prevent God from loving them.  In fact, God tells us to love our enemies (cf. Matthew 5:44).  How then, can it he, that He do less?  He cannot and does not, as Paul tells us in Romans (as cited above).  As to whether there is a distinction between the [garden variety] “sinner” and the “wicked”; I believe there is, and that a careful reading of Scripture were the “wicked” (Strong’s #7563 רָשָׁע, rasha` here; and #4190 πονηρε , Mat. 18:32, et al.) are mentioned compared with those where the “sinner” (Strong’s # 2400 חַטָּא,  chatta’ , as in Genesis 13:13; 1st Kings 1:21, and #268 αμαρτωλους, hamartōlos, 1st Tim. 1:15, i.e., those He came to save) is mentioned, will show this to be so, at least in the majority of the cases

●           Compare also Psalm 5:5, “You [God] hate all workers of iniquity…the Lord abhors [hates very much] the blood thirsty and deceitful man.”

5:5 The Boastful and Workers of Iniquity
●           Shall not stand, cf. Psalm 1:5

●           Are people whom God hates.

●           See note The Lord’s Hate, at 11:5 following.

Also, related to the small number of people who will enter heaven, over and over this truth is repeated when God speaks of the “remnant” (small number remaining) of Israel who will be saved, of the wide road that leads to hell and the many on it and the narrow road to heaven and the few on it.  Likewise, the wide gate and the narrow gate.  If God loved everyone, He could and would save everyone and all without violating their persons, which brings us to your 6th question.

“Why does the Bible say that He wants everyone to be saved?  He makes sure that most people don’t even have the option of choosing Him.”

Your way of phrasing that question by adding the qualifying statement after, seems to me to be another dig at God, questioning His love, His Justice, and even His goodness and implying that there is a conflict between God’s Love and His actions.  There is not.  First off, you err in stating that the Bible says God wants everyone without exception to be saved.  Your recognition that He has made sure that most don’t have the opportunity to choose Him speaking directly in support of that fact.  This takes us back to question 1a above and the passage in Romans referenced in the answer.  Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the [preaching of] Word of God.  God ordains the ends and well as the means to those ends.  The preaching of the Gospel is the means that God has chosen to reach the lost.  That He did not choose to make that Gospel message available to all people everywhere and every-when, is evidence that He then does not intend to save everyone, everywhere, in every time.  If that be the case, He clearly does not love everyone or He would have made provision for their being recipients of His Love.  It does, however point to His being compassionate and merciful, even to those whom He does not love nor intend to save.  By not giving them the Gospel, He in effect, lessens the penalty that will be enacted upon them in the Day of Judgment, being as they never heard the Gospel to reject it, they will, at least, not have that sin added to the others for which they will be condemned, whereas those who have heard the Gospel, reject it and die in their sins, they will have a worse punishment in eternity than those who did not.  Jesus Himself said as much here: Mat 11:20-24 HCSB

(20)  Then He proceeded to denounce the towns where most of His miracles were done, because they did not repent:

(21)  “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented in sackcloth and ashes long ago!

(22)  But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.

(23)  And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until today.

(24)  But I tell you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

And Repeated here:  Matthew 10:14-15; Luke 10:10-16

You must understand and grasp this, NO ONE DESERVES to be saved.  God does not owe anyone anything, let alone to be in His presence.  Thus, when He, for reasons known to and only completely understood by Him, choses to pass by the vast majority, leaving them in their sins and to their just reward for them, He does them no wrong.  Secondly, though God did not proactively reach out and provide the Gospel message of Salvation to everyone in every place and time, it’s not as though He stopped anyone from believing or seeking Him if they wanted to.  They just don’t want to.  We see this truth clearly portrayed in Romans 1.  That God IS, is clearly demonstrated by the Creation as a whole.  But men, loving darkness more than light, instead of turning to that Creator God, made other gods for themselves because they knew and hated the One True God, loving instead, their sins.

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