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Sermon No: 2753-Calvinism - Part 3(b) - Unconditional Election



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SERMON TOPIC: Calvinism - Part 3(b) - Unconditional Election

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 3 January 2016

Topic Groups: ELECTION, ARMINIANISM, CALVINISM

Sermon synopsis: Does God predestine some men to be damned? If not then why did God harden Pharaoh's heart? What of Jesus' explanation for his use of parables? Is Jesus saying he doesn't want most of his audience to be forgiven? What does the Scripture mean by 'Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated'? Does God hate sinners? Or does he hate the sin and love the sinner?
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Arminianism

& Calvinism

PART 3 (b)

Unconditional election vs Conditional election

Lutheranism: Single Predestination - while God in eternity past did indeed elect a people for himself whom he would actively save in the outworking of history, he did not decree that the rest of mankind would be lost.

Calvinism: Double Predestination or Unconditional Election - from eternity God has chosen some to be saved and he has chosen others to be damned.

Arminianism: Conditional Predestination or Conditional Election - predestination is based on God’s foreknowledge. God’s election is conditional on faith in Jesus. God does not arbitrarily consign some people to eternal damnation; their wilful rejection of God’s salvation makes them responsible.

PREDESTINATION

The fact that because of his foreknowledge God already knows an outcome, does not in any way imply that he causes the outcome.

Scripture clearly teaches that man has a free will and can choose to serve God or not. (Joshua 24:15)

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…”

Arminius taught that God gave humans free will to choose or reject salvation and that God elects or rejects on the basis of foreseen faith or unbelief. 1

1 He writes that “though the understanding of God be certain and infallible, that does not impose any necessity in things, nay, rather it establishes in them a contingency.” (i.e. a future event which is possible but cannot be predicted with certainty).

BIBLICAL PREDESTINATION

The Calvinist view of predestination does not regard man as the highest order of God’s creative work, truly capable of independent choice. Man is simply doing what God has already predetermined will happen.

THE IMAGE OF GOD

This reduces man to the level of an animal responding to its basic instincts. But man is made in God’s image with the capability of making independent choices.

In speaking of Judas, Jesus taught both the sovereignty of God (“the Son of Man will go as it has been decreed”) and the responsibility of man (“woe to that man who betrays him!”).

BIBLICAL PREDESTINATION

The Son of Man will go as it has been decreed. But woe to that man who betrays him!

(Luke 22:22 - NIV)

Arminius

Harsh persecution of Protestants in the Netherlands by the Spanish government of Phillip II led to the Eighty Years’ War and eventually, the separation of the largely Protestant Dutch Republic from the Catholic-dominated Southern Netherlands (present-day Belgium). 1

While the Anabaptist movement enjoyed popularity in the region in the early decades of the Reformation, Calvinism, in the form of the Dutch Reformed Church, became the dominant Protestant faith in the country from the 1560s onward. 2

1 "http:// www.thefullwiki.org/ History_of_Protestantism 2 "https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Protestant_Reformation

THE NETHERLANDS

Phillip II (1527-1598)

Theodore Beza, Calvin’s successor, made the Calvinistic position even more extreme by teaching what is called supralapsarianism – that the decrees of election and damnation came prior to the decree to create man, implying that God created some people specifically to damn them.

In contrast infralapsarianism asserts that God’s decrees of election and reprobation succeeded the decree of the fall.

Theodore Beza (1519-1605)

SUPRALAPSARIANISM

Dirck Coornhert was a Dutch writer, translator, politician and theologian, often considered the Father of Dutch Renaissance scholarship. 1 2

Coornhert rejected these extreme notions of Beza about predestination and wrote against him, demanding also a revision of the Belgic Confession (the Netherlands’ own reformed confession).

1 "https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Dirck_Coornhert 2 Coornhert entered into controversy with Catholics and Reformers alike. Reformers, he said, were sadly wanted, but those who called themselves such were not the kind that the church required; what was needed was apostles directly inspired from heaven. Coornhert also wrote and strove in favour of tolerance, opposing capital punishment for heretics.

Dirck Coornhert (1522–1590)

COORNHERT

Jacobus Hermanszoon (aka Jacob Arminius in Latin) had studied theology under Theodore Beza. He was ordained as a pastor at Amsterdam in 1588, gaining a reputation as a faithful pastor, 1 good preacher and an excellent scholar.

1 Arminius was commissioned to organize the educational system of Amsterdam, and is said to have done it well. He greatly distinguished himself by faithfulness to his duties in 1602 during a plague that swept through Amsterdam, going into infected houses that others did not dare to enter in order to give them water, and supplying their neighbours with funds to care for them. - "https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Jacobus_Arminius

ARMINIUS

Jacob Arminius (1560-1609)

As a former student of Beza, Arminius was asked by Ecclesiastical Court of Amsterdam to defend his teacher by refuting the teachings of Coornhert.

Two ministers at Delft had also written a document which contradicted both Beza and Coornhert. They proposed that although God’s decree to save only some was indeed absolute and unconditional, it had occurred after the fall (proposing infralapsarianism rather than Beza’s supralapsarianism). 1

Arminius, who was known as a strict Calvinist and an apt scholar, was to defend the supralapsarian position by refuting both Coornhert and infralapsarianism theology. 1

1 "https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Jacobus_Arminius

ARMINIUS

He readily agreed to the task, but after greater study found himself in conflict over the matter. He determined to spend greater time in study before continuing his refutation. 1

In attempting to defend Calvinistic predestination, Arminius began to doubt aspects of Calvinism and modified some parts of his own view. He attempted to reform Calvinism, and lent his name to a movement—Arminianism—which resisted some of the Calvinist tenets (unconditional election, the nature of the limitation of the atonement, and irresistible grace). 1 The essential dispute that Arminius had with Calvinism was regarding the doctrine of predestination. He did not deny predestination altogether, but denied that predestination was unconditional.

1 "https:// en.wikipedia.org/ wiki/ Jacobus_Arminius

ARMINIUS

Let’s consider some of the objections Calvinists bring against Arminianism, specifically those from Romans 9.

Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?

Why did God love Jacob but hate Esau?

Does the picture of God as the potter speak of him shaping our destiny against our will?

Did Jesus tell parables to prevent the non-elect from repenting?

OBJECTIONS

WHY DID GOD HARDEN PHARAOH’S HEART?

PHARAOH’S HARD HEART

Doesn’t God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart show that he was destined to damnation?

Rom 9:17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”

But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. (Ex 7:3)

PHARAOH’S HARD HEART

However this account in Exodus (with God speaking) is shown from God’s perspective and we must remember that God has foreknowledge. But note the chronological sequence in Exodus, which is the way it happened in history from man’s perspective.

Plague 2 (Frogs) - Ex 8:15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen…

Plague 4 (Flies) – Ex 8:32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.

Plague 6 (Boils) - Ex 9:12 But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron…

So after Pharaoh first hardened his heart (twice), God hardened Pharaoh’s heart based on the choice Pharaoh made to disregard God’s mercy (after each plague ended).

Pharaoh made a choice to harden his heart and came under God’s righteous judgment. Thus it is always men who will initially choose to either respond to God’s working in their lives or to harden their hearts.

PHARAOH’S HARD HEART

That is why we are cautioned against unbelief.

Heb 3:7-12 So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert”… See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.

Why would we be warned against hardening our hearts if indeed it was God who did the initial hardening?

PHARAOH’S HARD HEART

Calvin, by his own admission was influenced by Augustine in his views. But until Augustine in the 5th century, the early church fathers all taught a view consistent with Arminian teaching i.e. that men have free will and that predestination is based on God’s foreknowledge (see Appendix).

The much respected 2nd century Church Father, Irenaeus says that an interpretation of Romans 9 which makes God the arbitrary hardener of Pharaoh’s heart was a view held by Gnostic heretics (Marcionites). 1

He refutes the arguments of these Marcionites, who attempted to show that the Old Testament God was the author of sin, because he blinded Pharaoh and his servants.

1 Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 29) 1

CHURCH FATHERS

Like modern Arminians, Irenaeus attributes God’s hardening of Pharaoh to his foreknowledge, based on the future choices he knew Pharaoh would make. He writes:

But, say they, God hardened the heart of Pharaoh and of his servants… If, therefore, in the present time also, God, knowing the number of those who will not believe, since He foreknows all things, has given them over to unbelief, and turned away His face from men of this stamp, leaving them in the darkness which they have themselves chosen for themselves, what is there wonderful if He did also at that time give over to their unbelief, Pharaoh, who never would have believed, along with those who were with him? 1

1 Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 29) 1 & 2

CHURCH FATHERS

The Eastern father John Chrysostom (c. 347–407) writes:

Pharaoh was a vessel of wrath, that is, a man who by his own hard-heartedness had kindled the wrath of God. For after enjoying much long-suffering, he became no better, but remained unimproved. Wherefore he calls him not only a vessel of wrath, but also one fitted for destruction. That is, fully fitted indeed, but by his own proper self. For neither had God left out anything of the things likely to recover him, nor did he leave out anything of those that would ruin him, and put him beyond any forgiveness… But as he would not use the long-suffering in order to repentance, but fully fitted himself for wrath, He used him for the correction of others, through the punishment inflicted upon him… 1

1 Homily 16 on Romans

CHURCH FATHERS

But in any event, personal salvation was not in view in the Exodus or Romans’ passages about Pharaoh. Even when God eventually hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it was not so that he would be personally damned, but that through the successive events God could deliver his people from slavery. In his foreknowledge God plainly states that he knew that this was the only course of events that would prompt Pharaoh to let the Hebrew slaves go:

Ex 3:19-20 “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.”

PHARAOH’S HARD HEART

Some Calvinists mistakenly claim that the following verses in Romans 9 are “the deathblow for Arminianism”:

Rom 9:15-16 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

Granted if Paul were actually talking about personal salvation here, the passage would be problematic. But all things must be considered in context, and this whole passage is actually talking about Israel and the Gentiles. Paul is explaining that Israel is experiencing a temporary hardening until the full number of the Gentiles are saved. He shows that the Gentiles have been extended God’s mercy not by merit, desire or effort - but because of God’s compassion.

I WILL HAVE MERCY

THE PURPOSE OF PARABLES

But what of Jesus’ explanation for his use of parables? Is Jesus saying he doesn’t want most of his audience to be forgiven?

The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those on the outside everything is said in parables so that, “they may be ever seeing but never perceiving, and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise they might turn and be forgiven!” (Mark 4:11-12)

PARABLES?

PARABLES?

But cross-reference this passage with Matthew.

Matt 13:13-15 “This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand. In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: ‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’”

So Jesus didn’t use parables because his audience were predestined by God to damnation. He did so because their hearts had already “become calloused”, they had closed their eyes - hence they would not respond to the message.

PARABLES?

In fact Jesus gave this explanation after his parable about a sower - where some seed fell along the path and was eaten by birds, some fell on rocky places and was scorched by the sun, some fell among thorns and was choked the plants, while other seed fell on good soil where it produced a good crop.

He explained that the seed was the Word of God but it was only effective in good soil. As a farmer would you keep watering the rocks, the thorns and the path? Or would you focus on the soil which you knew to be fertile and which would yield a good harvest? Likewise Jesus focussed on those he knew to be good soil and didn’t feel compelled to explain the parables to those who were represented by seed fallen on rocks, thorns and a pathway.

In the passage where Irenaeus addresses the heresy of the Marcionites (regarding the reason that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart), he applies the same principle to Jesus’ words about parables i.e. God’s hardening or illumination is based on his foreknowledge regarding a man’s unbelief or belief:

For one and the same God [that blesses others] inflicts blindness upon those who do not believe, but who set Him at naught; just as the sun, which is a creature of His, [acts with regard] to those who, by reason of any weakness of the eyes cannot behold his light; but to those who believe in Him and follow Him, He grants a fuller and greater illumination of mind.

1 Against Heresies (Book IV, Chapter 29) 1

PARABLES?

THE POTTER

Rom 9:19-23 One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath— prepared for destruction? What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory…

THE POTTER

THE CLAY REFERS TO ISRAEL

It is an exegetical mistake to interpret Romans 9 as referring to individuals’ salvation.

Romans 9, 10, and 11 are all about the nation of Israel.

Romans 9 refers to Israel’s past (chosen by God)

Romans 10 refers to her present (apostasy)

Romans 11 refers to her future (restoration)

The clay that is hardened refers to Israel.

We do not build theology based on single verses taken out of context. We always look at the immediate context of a verse and then the overall context of Scripture.

THE POTTER

Paul is referring back to the prophet Jeremiah who also compared Israel to clay in the hands of the potter.

Jer 18:6 “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”

So the potter and clay analogy used by both Paul and Jeremiah is a reference to God’s dealings with the nation of Israel.

THE POTTER

One member of The Society of Evangelical Arminians explains: “In Jeremiah, he clearly presents the idea of clay as ‘going its own way.’ With a potter’s wheel, a potter doesn’t just simply make a pot exactly how he wants it. The clay spins, and the potter shapes it as the centripetal forces pull the pot apart. The potter then shapes the pot using these very forces which are attempting to rip them apart.”

THE POTTER

“However, often the air in the clay, or the lack/ abundance of moisture, or just the wrong shape, will make the pot form incorrectly, and the potter will collapse the clay back into a lump and start over again.

A potter may do this three to four times per pot. In fact, it is this idea of restarting the clay that Jeremiah is using. Israel isn’t quite shaping the way God wants it to, so He is going to collapse it and start again with a remnant (note: it is not a different piece of clay, but restarting from the same clay).

This makes no real sense in the Calvinist view, for if they were right, then why did the clay go astray to begin with? If we then take this to Romans, then we see God collapsing Judea down, and starting with another new remnant (the apostles), and will build His people back up.”

THE POTTER

THE CLAY IS MOULDED BASED ON IT’S ACTIONS

Paul points out that the hardening of Israel was due to their unbelief:

Rom 10:16 But not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?”

Paul demonstrates that Israel heard the message (v 16), even understood it (v 19), but were not obedient to it (v 21). Yet God still initially “held out his hands” to them.

Rom 10:21 But concerning Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

THE POTTER

Note too how Jeremiah continues in the referenced passage:

Jer 18:7-10 “If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed, and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted, and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.”

Rather than the potter (God) forcing a fate on the clay (Israel), the handling of the clay is based on their actions, either repentance or doing evil.

THE POTTER

THE HARDENING IS NOT PERMANENT

Using the Romans 9-11 passage to teach that some men are predestined to damnation in a fatalistic fashion is also problematic in that Paul takes great pains to show that Israel’s hardening is in fact temporary (Romans 11).

Rom 11:1-25 I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! … Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! … Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in.

God in his foreknowledge knows that Israel will again repent en masse and subsequently return to him:

Rom 11:2 God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew

THE POTTER

DOES GOD HATE SINNERS?

What about the rest of Romans 9, specifically where it speaks of Esau?

Rom 9:11-14 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad—in order that God’s purpose in election might stand: not by works but by him who calls—she was told, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all!

The older will serve the younger.

ESAU HAVE I HATED

ESAU HAVE I HATED

Firstly God’s election of Jacob and rejection of Esau are based on his foreknowledge. This is why he can choose “before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad”. John Chrysostom (circa 347–407) writes:

Whence also he says, Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated. That it was with justice, you indeed know from the result: but He knew it clearly even before the result. 1

1 Homily 16 on Romans

What then was the cause of why one was loved and the other hated?... With what intent then did God say this? Because He does not wait, as man does, to see from the issue of their acts the good and him who is not so, but even before these He knows which is the wicked and which not such… 1

…that the purpose of God according to election might stand, it was said unto her that the elder shall serve the younger: for this was a sign of foreknowledge, that they were chosen from the very birth. So that the election made according to foreknowledge, might be obviously from God, from the very first day He at once saw and proclaimed which was good and which not. 1

1 Homily 16 on Romans

ESAU HAVE I HATED

ESAU HAVE I HATED

Secondly this passage has nothing to do with the salvation of individuals. It is showing how God has rejected Israel.

Norman Geisler writes: “… Israel was chosen as a national channel through which the eternal blessing of salvation through Christ would come to all people (cf. Gen. 12:1–3; Rom. 9:4–5). Not every individual in Israel was elected to be saved (9:6).” God works through nations to accomplish his will, just as he works through individuals. Just because Israel was the chosen nation to bring forth the Messiah did not mean that every Israelite would be individually saved. Individual salvation has never been and will never be based on a person’s nationality. Paul is talking about the nation of Israel in Romans 9, not individual salvation. 1

1 "http:// www.toughquestionsanswered.org/ 2009/ 05/ 25/ does-god-really-hate-esau/ #sthash.GvtPXr9e.dpuf

Not only is the context of Romans 9 about nations (particularly Israel), the quote “Esau I have hated” in the passage is from the book of Malachi where it is speaking of the nations of Israel and Edom.

Malachi 1:3-4 “Yet I have loved Jacob, but Esau I have hated, and I have turned his mountains into a wasteland and left his inheritance to the desert jackals.” Edom may say, “Though we have been crushed, we will rebuild the ruins”…

Esau (or Edom) refers to the nation of Edom (Moab) while Jacob (or Israel) refers to the nation of Israel.

ESAU HAVE I HATED

Hate versus love is used as an idiom for “show preference”.

Luke 14:26 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters—yes, even his own life—he cannot be my disciple.

God doesn’t expect us to hate our families—we are explicitly told to honour our father and mothers (Matt 15:4), to love our wives (Eph 5:25), husbands and children (Titus 2:4). But this indicates a preference—choosing God above our families. This is apparent by cross-referencing the passage in Matthew.

Matt 10:37 “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me”

ESAU HAVE I HATED

James Patrick Holding writes in his essay, “Exclusive and Hyperbolic Language in the Bible”:

Another example cited by critics is Luke 14:26, in which Jesus says we must ‘hate’ others for the sake of the Gospel. Critics want to read this as literal hate; we reply by identifying such sayings as containing a rhetorical emphasis, not referring to literal hate.

Abraham Rihbany (The Syrian Christ, 98f) points to the use of ‘hate’ in the Bible as an example of linguistic extreme in an Eastern culture. There is no word, he notes, for ‘like’ in the Arabic tongue. “…[T]o us Orientals the only word which can express and cordial inclination of approval is ‘love’.” The word is used even of casual acquaintances. Extreme language is used to express even moderate relationships.

ESAU HAVE I HATED

Now here is another example from Jesus

Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other.

Such extremes of feeling would be atypical, but the extremes are not meant to be taken literally; the point is that one master will get more dedicated labour than the other.

Bottom line -- sceptics who think that Jesus is preaching literal and misogynist hate in this verse are doing no more than the usual -- thinking out of time, out of mind with the text, and in some cases … letting their own ‘hate’ get in the way of reading the text any way other than with wooden literalism.

ESAU HAVE I HATED

The term for “hate” in Malachi 1 is a Hebrew idiom which meaning to “love less.” We see this in Genesis 29:30-31 where the phrase “loved Rachel more than Leah” is used as the equivalent of “Leah was hated”.

Gen 29:30-31 (ESV) So Jacob went in to Rachel also, and he loved Rachel more than Leah, and served Laban for another seven years. When the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb, but Rachel was barren.

ESAU HAVE I HATED

So in some cases ‘hate’ and ‘love’ are used as hyperboles in order to indicate a preference. The covenant terms ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are used in Malachi 1 (which Paul quotes in Romans 9) indicating that God chose Israel (descendants of Jacob) over Edom (descendants of Esau) as his covenant people and the line of the Messiah.

God’s treatment of the nation Edom was based on their actions. Ezekiel prophesies against Edom:

Ezek 35:5-6 (NKJV) “Because you have had an ancient hatred, and have shed the blood of the children of Israel by the power of the sword at the time of their calamity, when their iniquity came to an end, therefore, as I live,” says the Lord God, “I will prepare you for blood, and blood shall pursue you; since you have not hated blood, therefore blood shall pursue you.”

ESAU HAVE I HATED

GOD HATES SINNERS?

Besides the “Esau I have hated” passage, some use Scripture to teach that God generally hates unbelievers (and that we should too).

Psalm 11:5 … but the wicked and those who love violence his soul hates with a passion.

Lev 20:23 “You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them

Lev 26:30 “I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars and pile your dead bodies on the lifeless forms of your idols, and I will abhor you

Deut 18:12 “Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD…”

Prov 6:16-19 There are six things which the Lord hatesA false witness who utters lies, and one who spreads strife among brothers.

Again James Patrick Holding writes:

“Critics may complain, but they do so without knowledge of the ancient principles of rhetoric… and exaggeration… And in fact, such rhetorical emphasis typifies ancient and even modern Semitic cultures. G. B. Caird, in The Language and Imagery of the Bible, notes the frequent use of hyperbole among Semitic peoples, and notes that ‘its frequent use arises out of a habitual cast of mind’ which tends to view matters in extremes, or as we would say, ‘black and white’.”

GOD HATES SINNERS?

The extremely contentious Westboro Baptist Church is not affiliated with any Baptist denomination, although it describes itself as following Primitive Baptist and Calvinist principles. 1 They operate a website called www.GodHatesFags.com.

GOD HATES SINNERS?

In a now infamous sermon, controversial neo-Calvinist Mark Driscoll, former pastor of Mars Hill Church says:

“Some of you, God hates you. Some of you, God is sick of you. God is frustrated with you. God is wearied by you. God has suffered long enough with you. He doesn’t think you’re cute. He doesn’t think it’s funny … He doesn’t care if you compare yourself to someone worse than you, He hates them too. God hates, right now, personally, objectively hates some of you.”

GOD HATES SINNERS?

Mark Driscoll (1970-)

Ultimately God will judge the unrepentant sinner. Not only does the Bible say “God is love” (1 John 4:8); it also says “God is just” (2 Thess 1:6).

Num 14:18 The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished

And so the usage of the term ‘hate’ does not negate God’s love and grace in the present age, but indicates that ultimately unrepentant sinners “cannot stand in his presence”:

Ps 5:5-6 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence; you hate all who do wrong. You destroy those who tell lies; bloodthirsty and deceitful men the LORD abhors.

GOD HATES SINNERS?

So while in a sense God can be said to ‘hate’ the sinner - because ultimately he will judge unrepentant sinners, there are an abundance of scriptures which speak of the love of God towards sinners at this present time, which has prompted him to provide a way of salvation. Jesus made it clear in these immortal words that God loves the world, sinners included:

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world 1 that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

1 NOTE: Some Calvinists will claim that the ‘world’ and ‘whoever’ of John 3:16 must be redefined to apply only to the elect.

GOD LOVES SINNERS

Why would God tell us to love our enemies when he hates his? In fact God is the example used by Jesus when he instructs us to love our enemies. Jesus said that God shows love to “the evil” and “the unrighteous” (Matt 5:44-45).

But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

GOD LOVES SINNERS

Is God a sinner? Jesus said that it is a trait of sinners that they love only those who love them.

Luke 6:32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even ‘sinners’ love those who love them.”

Jesus answers that question in the same passage (Lk 6:35 )

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked.

GOD LOVES SINNERS

In the book of Hosea, why then does God say these words to Israel?

Hos 9:15 “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious.”

John Gill writes of this passage that it is “not to be understood of the special love and favour the Lord bears to his own people in Christ, which is everlasting and unchangeable; but of his general and providential favour and regard unto these people, which he had manifested in bestowing many great and good things upon them; but now would do so no more…”

GOD HATES SINNERS?

If you read the book in context, you see that Hosea loves his adulterous and unfaithful wife. In fact the story of Hosea and his troubled marriage is used by God as a type of his similar remarkable love for Israel, even when they turned to other gods.

Hos 3:3 The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…”

GOD LOVES SINNERS

If God truly hates sinners then he should hate all of us, including you and me because:

“all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23).

If God hates sinners, why does the Scripture emphasize that while we were sinners, God loved us?

Eph 2:3 … Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions

GOD LOVES SINNERS

If God only loves sinners that he knows will repent why does Peter say that he doesn’t want anyone to perish?

“…Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9) ?

GOD LOVES SINNERS

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

Love the sinner but hate the sin

While usage of the above cliché is criticised by some because it is not found in the Bible in those explicit words; in reality Jude expresses a similar concept:

Jude 1:22–23 Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

So our lives should be characterized by mercy for the sinner, combined with a hatred of their sin and its consequences.

Although the origin of the saying, “Hate the sin, love the sinner” is often attributed to Ghandi, it was actually the North African Augustine of Hippo who first said something very similar around 424 AD, when discussing discipline for an erring Christian:

Moreover, what I have now said in regard to abstaining from wanton [lustful] looks should be carefully observed, with due love for the persons and hatred of the sin, in observing, forbidding, reporting, proving, and punishing of all other faults. 1

1 Letter 211

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

Then Augustine wrote the following in 426 AD in his famous “City of God” book:

For this reason, the man who lives by God’s standards and not by man’s, must needs be a lover of the good, and it follows that he must hate what is evil. Further, since no one is evil by nature, but anyone who is evil is evil because of a perversion of nature, the man who lives by God's standards has a duty of “perfect hatred” (Psalm 139:22) towards those who are evil; that is to say, he should not hate the person because of the fault, nor should he love the fault because of the person. He should hate the fault, but love the man. And when the fault has been cured there will remain only what he ought to love, nothing that he should hate. 1

1 The City of God 14:6, Penguin ed., transl. Bettenson

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

So while the saying is not explicitly in the Bible, Augustine correctly captured the spirit of Scripture.

Jesus was constantly criticized because he fraternized with sinners (Matt 9:11). Did he approve of prostitution and stealing? No! But he was the friend of prostitutes and tax collectors. So surely he hated sin while loving sinners?

It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. (Matt 9:12)

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

Jesus demonstrated love by building relationships with sinners, while at the same time telling them to stop sinning.

Then neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin. (John 8:11)

See, you are well again. Stop sinning or something worse may happen to you. (John 5:14)

So Jesus hated prostitution but loved the prostitutes. He hated corruption and stealing, but loved tax collectors.

The phrase, “Love the sinner, hate the sin,” simply reminds us that we are to love others, while simultaneously hating the sin that they practice and which has enslaved them.

Like Jesus, Christians can love someone without endorsing their sin.

I can love the liar while hating their lies.

I can love a drug addict while hating their addiction.

I can love the adulterer while hating their adultery.

I can love the homosexual, while hating homosexuality.

I can love a thief while hating the act of theft.

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

But maybe God only loves the sinners that he knows will respond to the gospel and repent? Does God only love the sinner that in foreknowledge he knows will repent?

Jesus loved the rich young ruler who rejected him and turned away from following him.

Mark 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him

There is no indication in Scripture that the young man ever repented. Yet Jesus loved him!

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

God even shows mercy by mitigating the punishment of a wicked sinner because he showed temporary humility. (In fact Ahab later died while in rebellion against God.)

1 Kings 21:21-29 “He says, ‘… I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel…” There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord… When Ahab

heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted…Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah… “… Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

C.S. Lewis wrote:

I remember Christian teachers telling me long ago that I must hate a bad man’s actions, but not hate the bad man: or, as they would say, hate the sin but not the sinner. For a long time I used to think this a silly, straw-splitting distinction: how could you hate what a man did and not hate the man? But years later it occurred to me that there was one man to whom I had been doing this all my life—namely myself. However much I might dislike my own cowardice or conceit or greed, I went on loving myself. There had never been the slightest difficulty about it. In fact the very reason why I hated these things was that I loved the man. 1

1 Christian Behaviour (New York: Macmillan, 1950), 40

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

Just because I loved myself, I was sorry to find that I was the sort of man who did those things. Consequently, Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them… But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping, if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he may be cured… 1

1 Ibid

LOVE SINNER, HATE SIN

C.S. Lewis (1898-1963)

God loves sinners and Christ died for the ungodly :

Rom 5:6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

GOD HATES SINNERS?

God doesn’t just love, “God is love” (1 John 4:16).

To those who try redefine ‘all’, ‘everyone, and ‘the world’, we see that God’s love extends to “all he has made” – there is no way you can exclude the lost:

Ps 145:8-9 The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.

GOD HATES SINNERS?

The Calvinist view of election and predestination come largely from misapplying a passage of Scripture (Romans 9) which speaks of God showing unmerited favour to the Gentiles and Israel losing favour because of unbelief. They incorrectly apply these verses to personal salvation, while ignoring all the other Scriptures which talk about people choosing to serve God.

Double predestination says that God hates unbelievers, while the supralapsarianism version says that God created them with the specific purpose of damning them.

The gospel says that God loves the world and makes a genuine offer of salvation to all, even though some reject it by virtue of being free-will agents.

CONCLUSION

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http:// www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quotations taken from the ESV:

“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”

APPENDIX: CHURCH FATHERS

Early church author Ambrosiaster writes:

Romans 9:15. “I will have mercy,” he says, “on the one whom I know in advance that I will show mercy to, because I know that he will be converted and remain with me. And I will show compassion to the person whom I know will come back to me, having put his heart right after his error.” 1

Romans 8:28... Those who are called according to the promise are those whom God knew would be true believers in the future, so that even before they believed they were known… 1

1 Commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians

Ambrosiaster writes on Romans 9:18 (“Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden.”):

...Romans 9:18. Here Paul assumes the role of an objector who thinks God is gracious to somebody without regard for justice, so that faced with two people who are identical, he accepts the one and rejects the other. This is what actually happens. He compels one to believe and hardens the other so that he will not believe. God answers the objector on the basis of his authority, but justice is maintained on the basis of the foreknowledge that I mentioned above. 1

1 Commentaries on Romans and 1-2 Corinthians

Rom 9:15-16 (NASB) For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.

Chrysostom writes:

… Because when he says, “it is not of him that wills, nor of him that runs,” he does not deprive us of free-will, but shows that all is not one’s own, for that it requires grace from above. For it is binding on us to will, and also to run: but to confide not in our own labours, but in the love of God toward man. 1

1 Homily 16 on Romans

John Chrysostom writes on the passage regarding God as the potter:

Ver. 20, 21. Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why have You made me thus? … Here it is not to do away with free-will that he says this, but to show, up to what point we ought to obey God. For in respect of calling God to account, we ought to be as little disposed to it as the clay is. 1

But in saying, which He had afore prepared unto glory, he does not mean that all is God’s doing. Since if this were so, there were nothing to hinder all men from being saved. But he is setting forth again His foreknowledge, and doing away with the difference between the Jews and the Gentiles. 1

1 Homily 16 on Romans

Chrysostom continues:

And when he does go on to say, “Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?” do not suppose that this is said by Paul as … implying a necessity over the will, but only to illustrate the sovereignty and difference of dispensations; for if we do not take it in this way, various incongruities will follow - for if he was here speaking about the will, and those who are good and those not so, then He will be Himself the Maker of these, and man will be free from all responsibility. And at this rate, then Paul would also be shown to be in contradiction to himself, since he always bestows the highest honour upon free choice. 1

1 Ibid




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