Do you believe every single person is created in the image of God?
Do you believe every single person’s life is valuable and worthy of being protected in the womb from the time they are conceived?
Why do you believe this?
If indeed God has created two classes of people, some for salvation and the rest for reprobation, then how can you consistently affirm the two statements above?
John Calvin taught:
“By predestination we mean the eternal decree of God, by which he determined with himself whatever he wished to happen with regard to every man. All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and, accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of those ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or death.” – John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, iii, xxi, sec. 5, 1030–1031.
If you agree with John Calvin then how can you consistently argue that every life matters equally? How can you denounce the views of an abortionist for not equally valuing all human life while promoting a doctrine that teaches God does not equally value all human life?
As we have noted many times before, not every Calvinist goes so far as to deny God’s genuine love and desire for every person to be saved. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the Prince of Baptist Preachers, certainly leaned toward Calvinistic soteriology but still argued:
” You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text (1 Tim. 2:4). “All men,” say they, —”that is, some men”: as if the Holy Ghost could not have said “some men” if he had meant some men. “All men,” say they; “that is, some of all sorts of men”: as if the Lord could not have said “all sorts of men” if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written “all men,” and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the “alls” according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth…
My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times over appear to be inconsistent with myself than be inconsistent with the word of God. I never thought it to be any very great crime to seem to be inconsistent with myself, for who am I that I should everlastingly be consistent?
But I do think it a great crime to be so inconsistent with the word of God that I should want to lop away a bough or even a twig from so much as a single tree of the forest of Scripture. God forbid that I should cut or shape, even in the least degree, any divine expression. – Charles Spurgeon “Salvation By Knowing the Truth” (emphasis added)
Spurgeon seems to recognize the inconsistency of the Calvinistic system and the clear teaching of scripture with regard to God’s genuine love and desire for every person. He was willing to live within that apparent contradiction and maintain the clear biblical teaching of God’s universal love for all people. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer Calvinistic Baptists seem willing to live with that inconsistency and have instead adopted a woefully unbiblical dogma which fundamentally undercuts the value of human life.
By arguing that God only loves or values “all kinds of people,” the high Calvinist undermines the value of the Imago Dei (Image of God) inherently created within every person.* If God is able and willing to love some and reject others before their birth, then on what moral ground can we stand against the abortionist who is virtually doing the exact same thing?
One may argue, “But He is God and we are not, who are you to compare his choices with mans? Just because God decided to reject many before they were even born does not mean an abortionist should do so.” But does not Christ clearly call us to be like God in regard to how we treat others?
Consider this warning from a more moderate Calvinistic pastor, John MacArthur:
Scripture clearly says that God is love. “The Lord is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works” (Ps. 145:9). Christ even commands us to love our enemies, and the reason He gives is this: “In order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matt. 5:45). The clear implication is that in some sense God loves His enemies. He loves both “the evil and the good,” both “the righteous and the unrighteous” in precisely the same sense we are commanded to love our enemies.
In fact, the second greatest commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk. 12:31; cf. Lev. 19:18), is a commandment for us to love everyone. We can be certain the scope of this commandment is universal, because Luke 10 records that a lawyer, “wishing to justify himself … said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbor?’” (Lk. 10:29)—and Jesus answered with the Parable of the Good Samaritan. The point? Even Samaritans, a semi-pagan race who had utterly corrupted Jewish worship and whom the Jews generally detested as enemies of God, were neighbors whom they were commanded to love. In other words, the command to love one’s “neighbor” applies to everyone. This love commanded here is clearly a universal, indiscriminate love.
Consider this: Jesus perfectly fulfilled the law in every respect (Matt. 5:17–18), including this command for universal love. His love for others was surely as far-reaching as His own application of the commandment in Luke 10. Therefore, we can be certain that He loved everyone. He must have loved everyone in order to fulfill the Law. After all, the apostle Paul wrote, “The whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal. 5:14). He reiterates this theme in Romans 13:8: “He who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Therefore, Jesus must have loved His “neighbor.” And since He Himself defined “neighbor” in universal terms, we know that His love while on earth was universal.
Do we imagine that Jesus as perfect man loves those whom Jesus as God does not love? Would God command us to love in a way that He does not? Would God demand that our love be more far-reaching than His own? And did Christ, having loved all humanity during His earthly sojourn, then revert after His ascension to pure hatred for the non-elect? Such would be unthinkable; “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, yes and forever” (Heb 13:8) (John MacArthur, The God Who Loves, 102-03).
I beg my Calvinistic brethren to tread carefully as the appeal of logical consistency within your system’s framework forever compels you to move away from the clear biblical teaching of God’s love. Please, do not sacrifice the foundational teachings which give weight to the value of human life in order to appease the need you have for logical consistency within a man-made systematic.
If you must be a Calvinist, for the sake of biblical truth, please be an inconsistent one!
HERE is a sermon by Pastor Leighton Flowers on the subject of God’s love for everyone.
Here is a YouTube video of Professor Leighton Flowers talking through the implications of denying God’s universal love and desire for all to be saved.
*Here is an example of some Calvinists who seek to deny God’s desire and love for everyone.
*The Baptist Faith and Message reads:
“Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.”
43 thoughts on “Does Every Life Matter?”
Worthless Worship, Worthless People
Just because God commands us to consider people valuable and ought to consider life valuable does not mean that God does not deem some individuals as worthless. He calls people worthless in Jeremiah 2:5, he calls unbelievers as worthless trees that bear no fruit, he calls the reprobate dogs, pigs, and goats. You are confusing what God requires of us with what God “requires” of himself. God has the right to consider some individuals worthless, and can do whatever he wants with them, but since we are not God, we may not. Every life does not matter equally in the context of salvation, because God does not treasure all people alike, but only his bride.
What is your take on the MacArthur quote in the article, Blake…just curious.
Also…. the text says, “They followed worthless idols and became worthless themselves.” (Jeremiah 2:5)
It does not say they were born worthless, as Calvinism’s systematic would imply…
Every life does not matter equally in the context of salvation, because God does not treasure all people alike, but only his bride.
RE: Salvation available only to an elite group?
The “worthless” in Jer 2:5 were not created worthless, they became that way by their idolatry.
Thank you Leighton for opening up this other angle for discussion! I think if pressed MacArthur would say we should love all mankind with benevolence during their lifetime, not only because God loves all the reprobate with His benevolence during their lifetime, but also because He has predetermined for our indiscriminate love to be used as part of the means to draw the elect.
But they would hold firm that salvation love is only reserved for the elect, for only the elect were predetermined to be loved that way, and that love makes the other pale into insignificance and can be called “hate” for the reprobate because they are eternally damned.
Your strongest argument is from Spurgeon’s take on 1Tim 2:4, and we can throw in John 3:16. God does have salvation love for all, and no one was created according to some plan where they were already designated as damned eternally, even before creation (cf. 2Pet 3:9). Knowing this makes me love the lost indiscriminately, without maintaining falsely in the back of my mind that my zeal for their evangelism, really doesn’t make a difference, falsely thinking the elect will get saved right on time, according to God’s love for them alone, and the lost will remain lost, no matter what I might try to do to show them God’s love!
That faulty thinking is one of the most harmful results of buying in Calvinism. It harms the motivation for truly loving the lost as God truly does!
Yes, every person is made in God’s image. Every life is important because of that fact. God says every life is valuable. I don’t see the problem here.
BTW, what does this even mean?
“The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all who do wrong.”
and this, “Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred; I count them my enemies.”
I appreciate, Les, that you bring up verses to consider that should be part of the discussion! I would like to respond with some thoughts for the verses you have chosen. You did not give your view of those verses, so I am thinking that you think the applications from them are self-evident. Are they?
You did ask a question – “BTW, what does this even mean?” But I was not sure if you were referring to the implications of everyone being “valuable” in God’s eyes, or if you were asking a serious question about the verses you quoted following that question. The implications of being “valuable” should be teased out more from Scripture. Someone else might want to take a shot at that.
As for your verses – 1. Thoughts, especially in prayers, of a psalmist or prophet are often descriptive only, and not prescriptive. These verses that you gave especially fall into that category, illustrating, as with other prayers found in the Psalms, that we should be honest with our feelings, even bringing our complaints, before God. This truth alone would make it unwise to suggest dogmatically that these verses are encouraging hatred (as we think of it) for God’s enemies.
2. A word study of “hate” in the OT will reveal that it should be taken to mean “rejection”, but not necessarily tied to any emotional motivation or reaction, though it can be. In 139:21 David does use a word of emotion – קוֹט – connected with this rejection. Most modern translations have this word (only 6x in OT) mean “loathe”. The KJV has “grieve”, I think, because it is also used of God’s attitude towards His people Israel for 40 years (Ps 95:10). Loathing sounds a little harsh in that context from someone who carried them like a Father (Deut 1:31). The meaning is uncertain, but the feeling is there, and it is negative. However, in this context David asks God to judge his heart (139:23), indicating that he might not be certain that his own attitude is correct, even though he might feel it is.
3. You have heard of a love/hate relationship? I think rejection of God’s enemies, in a “perfect” or limited way (that Hebrew word is interesting also), being disgusted or at least grieved at their rebellion, can also be joined to expressions of love to be shown to them in Jesus’ name. The best example is obedience to Jesus commands on how to treat those who persecute us in His name (Mat. 5:44). Persecution of us in Jesus’ name is rebellion and rejection against God. But God wants us to love them in various ways, even though we reject them in various ways. That is because He wants all of them to repent and be saved!
you quoted ““The arrogant cannot stand in Your presence; You hate all who do wrong.”
I think you need to be careful with statements such as this because if taken literally and absolutely, then since all of us “do wrong”, then God hates all of us.
And that would also apply to believers as despite being believers we still sin/do wrong, so again if you pushed this statement too literally and too far, it would mean that God continually hates all of us since we all continue to sin and do wrong.
I think it is safer to say these are general statements and it is speaking of people who are consistently doing wrong and do not repent of their sin (also referred to as the “wicked” in scripture). There are also scriptures that the wicked can forsake their wicked path, turn to righteousness, repent, be cleansed and even become righteous people.
I appreciate your thing the time to research and present your findings. I do not have time right now to dig in and go back and forth with Hebrew word studies. In the midst of my year end fundraising campaign, so I have little time other than quick hits. Others may want to take up the task.
I think you are wrong in your downplaying of the word hate. I think at a minimum it means that God shows favor of some over others. As in: we all agree God saves. Man can take no credit. Since God saves, and He doesn’t save all, therefore at a minimum this shows that God has some level of favor for some (the saved) over others (the ones ending up in hell). I think Robert has it right below:
“it is speaking of people who are consistently doing wrong and do not repent of their sin (also referred to as the “wicked” in scripture).” Those who persist in wickedness He hates.
I’m sorry that you don’t have the time to respond, Les! I hope your fundraising goes well, and is blessed for the glory of God! Surely salvation is a divine favor (acceptance) that includes an enhanced love, a love that will never to be experienced by those who remain lost.
But we are discussing whether God has a basic sufficient love for the lost to grant them all a bona fide opportunity to become one of His own! I believe you failed to prove from the passages you listed that He doesn’t have such love, as shown in my evaluation of those texts.
Does God have a basic sufficient love for the lost to grant them all eternal life?
Yes, sufficient love that enables them all to have an opportunity to repent or to reject that opportunity for repentance. If they repent and trust He will save them!
“Yes, sufficient love that enables them all to have an opportunity to repent or to reject”
So it is one to a point, but no farther. Not enough to actually save all. Just enough to bring them up to the edge of the promised land, let them see the other side and make their decision. But not enough to carry them all the way across. I see.
Exactly! But more love awaits any who repent and trust. And that love finishes the covenant transaction granting forgiveness and everlasting life!
That opportunity and response-ability to repent and trust, along with the redemption price were all graciously provided. Man’s humble reception will find God fulfilling His promise of granting salvation. Man’s rejection may find God justly not providing another sufficient opportunity.
What a Calvinist can’t understand is how God is willing and even able to plan for Himself to freely submit Himself to the possibility of suffering loss. Yet, a normal reading of Scripture and the beauty of His incarnation proves that He does just that! Praise His Name!
You: “Exactly! But more love awaits any who repent and trust. And that love finishes the covenant transaction granting forgiveness and everlasting life!”
Exactly means you are trying to agree with what I said. But the essence if what I said is that God loves some more than others. Remember, we all agree that it is God who saves. Man does not save himself nor can man take any credit for saving himself. To wit, God saves some (when He could save all) and He decides not to save others. Favor of one set of people over another set of people. More love for some people over other people.
So when you say exactly to what I am saying, you are agreeing with Reformed theology! Yay!!!!
In many things we do agree, Les! ☺ Where we disagree is when and why God decides to give more love to those who trust in His mercy, and that He sufficiently gives enough love to everyone one to enable them to freely accept or reject His offer to receive even more of His love!
Robert, I think you are right. I didn’t expand at all, but you’re right that this is not talking about hating everyone who sins. If so, you’re correct we would all fall into that category. Those of us who are the redeemed are not the wicked anymore. And, as long as even the wicked have breath, there is the opportunity for them to be saved.
Les – You are professing, or at least giving misdirection, more than your Calvinism will allow, when you say – “And, as long as even the wicked have breath, there is the opportunity for them to be saved.”
You know that you think only the predetermined “elect” wicked have a real opportunity to be saved. There is no ability, in your view, for the non-elect wicked, so for them there is no real opportunity. Def. opportunity – “a set of circumstances that makes it possible to do something.”
Sorry Brian. No misdirection. Fact is that if any sinner will turn to Jesus He will save him. That’s Reformed theology. Quote:
“This [above] was the typical Reformed way of distinguishing between the external well-meant offer of the Gospel and the internal, efficacious work of the Spirit through it. Because the success of the external or common call is contingent upon the divine decree and application of redemption, and not on the preacher’s rhetorical skill or the hearer’s free will, the preacher is free to offer grace to all who will receive it, knowing that it is, as the Canons remind us, God “produces both the will to believe” (velle credere) and “the act of believing” (actum credence).” http://heidelblog.net/2013/12/the-reformed-tradition-on-the-free-or-well-meant-offer-of-the-gospel/
More misdirection, Les, … you really mean “if any elect sinner will turn to Jesus” … for in your view no other kind of sinner will turn to Him or will ever become able to turn to Jesus.
So just saying “any sinner” is very misleading because of the normal inclusive assumption being meant by those words, though you will argue for a technical limited meaning of a category of those turned by the Lord to Himself.
I’ve just shown you Reformed theology. You just call it misdirection. So there we are and we will leave it at that.
You said about Brian:
“I’ve just shown you Reformed theology. You just call it misdirection. So there we are and we will leave it at that.”
Couple things on this. First, Brian is not in any place to accuse others of misdirection as he repeatedly and constantly presents his false theology of open theism here with semantic games and misdirection (e.g. he constantly accuses, and it is a false accusation, that those who hold the ordinary understanding of omniscience do so based on philosophical definitions, this is false as most believers hold their ordinary understanding of omniscience based not on some philosophical definition but on their understanding of what scripture itself presents, other examples could be given but the point is that Brian is not the one to be accusing others of misdirection as he does it constantly and repeatedly himself).
Second, I think I understand why someone might not think you are presenting things in a direct and clear and forthright manner Les. Take this example, you wrote: “Fact is that if any sinner will turn to Jesus He will save him. That’s Reformed theology.”
The problem with this statement Les is that I and many, many other non-Calvinists believe that “if any sinner will turn to Jesus He will save him” Les you say that THAT is “Reformed theology”, but THAT is also non-Reformed theology as well. If you are going to speak of “Reformed theology” you have to speak of what is distinctive about it, not areas where virtually everybody agrees. If I said “Jesus was God and came in the flesh, that’s Reformed theology” it would be true that that claim is part of Reformed theology, but it is not unique to Reformed theology (Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and other Protestants would all affirm that “Jesus was God and came in the flesh”).
That statement also leaves some things out. Reformed theology ALSO believes that the only sinner who could (and will) turn to Jesus is one who has been preselected by God to be one of the elect Only such a person could “turn to Jesus” and then “he will save him”. Reformed theology also believes that not only is it only the elect who could “turn to Jesus”, they will invariably do so, they have to do so, it is necessitated that they do so (so determinism is involved, and most non-Calvinists reject determinism when it comes to explaining how a person comes to “turn to Jesus”.
So Les your statement while being something that a Reformed person such as yourself believes, it is also something that non-Reformed persons also believe. So that statement alone does not properly and forthrightly present what Reformed theology believes. I don’t think you were engaging in misdirection, rather, you just left out some important information that needs to be considered when thinking about Reformed theology. 🙂
Robert you make a good point. I think my thought process was a response to Brian saying or implying that Reformed theology can’t hold to the position I was espousing. You’re right that what I was saying is not unique to RT. Evangelical Christians agree on what I said.
It is true that only the elect will in fact turn to Christ after being enabled by God. It’s also true that the lost can’t turn to Christ. None of the lost can do that unless and until they are enabled. I think we agree on this.
My link was to a site where a discussion of a well meant offer is located. My whole point is that RT can offer a well meant offer or invitation to anyone we come in contact with.
Anyway, thanks for the nudge to be more clear.
If there is any doubt about the reading of ‘all men’ in 1 Tim 2.4 then this is surely removed by 2 Pet 3.9. God wants all men to be saved and is unwilling that any should perish. What then of 2 Pet 2.9? These people have chosen their evil path and so God now gives them over to it (a common biblical theme e.g. Rom 1.24). God has not preordained them to this path before they were born.
article says: every single person’s life is valuable and worthy
Valuable and worthy are two drastically different concepts, and I’m not sure we can say we are “worthy” of anything but hell.
Dizerner, you are taking Leighton’s words out of context and distorting his meaning.
Deborah, it’s kind of a “drive by shooting” to accuse me of something not back it up with any explanation. Once we say humans are in any sense “worthy” for me it denies the need for the Cross to be representative of our entire race. I don’t see how that is either “distorting” or “taking it out of context,” nor have you convinced me I am doing so.
Leighton was just saying each human life is worth being protected instead of physically aborted. Maybe if he had used the word “worth” instead of “worthy,” you would like it better. Either way, Leighton wasn’t in any way saying that people are inherently worthy of eternal life.
I have made the statement more clear to avoid any confusion and added a quote from the Baptist Faith and Message for clarity…
Actually it says “worthy of being protected” as in not killed (aborted) or tortured. But I suppose those things seem small in comparison to eternal torment in hell for simply being born.
The word worthy denies grace for me. Grace is not given to the “worthy.” I really think that’s a valid logical point. Don’t you think the emotional argument about hell is equally valid for, let’s say, a small child’s very first sin? Let’s say it’s just something like lying to his parents or stealing a candy bar. Somehow that suddenly makes the emotional argument about hell just all hunky-dory for you? See what I’m trying to get at with that? If we build a structure where only our deeds send us to hell, and not our very substance (and as far as I know traditionalists accept “sinful nature” just not “inherited guilt;” I’m currently reading Adam Harwood’s books on them to understand this, because guilt seems a bit of a difficult to understand word for me), we are denying I believe a foundation for sin and righteousness itself. I don’t suppose I’ll get any honest dialogue on this…
Dizerner, if no person is “worthy” of anything, next time you look at your spouse or child in the eye, tell them exactly what you believe…: “wife, husband, or child,- You are worthy of nothing… but hell!”
Quite harsh isn’t it? If you wouldn’t devalue your spouse or child, why devalue mine or the rest of humanity? However, you seem unsure of your convictions based on your statement. But If ever you are in a position to pull the plug on a family member, then you will know for sure whether human life is valuable or worthy of anything.
One mistake many professing Christians make is that they think its humble piety to state things in such a way as to put man lower, as if some how this would bring God higher. This should never be the case for a Christian; when in secular soceity, our children have to contend with the brainwashing that they are no more valuable then primordial slime or a prehistoric worm. Words that tend to degrade human value and worth is just not Christ-like.
And I concur with Professor Flowers, we should all be in awe at the Imago Dei. Because I don’t know about you, but the first time I created life, as my child passed from the womb unto life and breath her first breathe, one word -“GOD!” I, made in the imago dei, have also created. I knew then what it meant to be “agape” love. Sometimes we just need to stop being theologians and just be a father. Then, we might know what its like- to be like our real Father. If you wouldn’t condemn your child before birth unto hell or merely pass over them not unto life, why would you think the most Holy Father would?
You’re simply confusing value with worthiness, and your entire argument is based on a straw man for me—I don’t mean to be dismissive by saying that, but there’s not any actual valid logical argument I can answer to.
Would I look at my “wife, husband, or child” and say “You are worthy of hell”? Since I see it as completely foundational to the Gospel, this is a really obvious yes to me; I fellowship with family members and believers who don’t deny that they were hell-bound without the work of Christ. This is not even seen as “strange” nor does it devalue anyone. What devalues a human being in our soteriology is to say one does not need Christ to die for one, since one is “worthy” already.
Just being a father requires something. It requires a painful birth. You cannot skip childbirth and say “just be a father.” This is a metaphorical picture that just as our cursed world requires pain for a birth, so our new birth required something—the pain of childbearing. I think the Most Holy Father condemns humanity to hell justly and righteously and didn’t owe us Christ, but rather gave us Christ as what is called an act of grace to the undeserving. This is not “humble pie” this is “boasting in the cross.”
I pray one day you will see the depth of the cost that Christ paid, and not count his suffering as something you inherently deserve.
This post does not so much address this article, as a modern trend I fear many are gravitating towards when talking about God’s love. When we behold Christ we may only see his kindness, and miss the entire reason why he came—which includes his severity. I believe we find our value in Christ alone. Christ’s work is big enough to encompass all people—but in reality for the evil in the world this doesn’t work out so. There is no value outside of him—we dry up and are burned says the Holy Writ. And who would argue that there are not vile and evil people who hate God, even when given grace not to? But these sons of Satan where not decreed to be so, but rather foreknown, just as the saints. How are we to view the lost world? God *potentially* loves all the people that he *hates* under his wrath—if they accept Christ.
There’s no good news without bad news first. God is to be feared at least as much as loved. He will laugh at the calamity of some. And *that* is not a God every believer might be fully aware of. That is the God that made Jesus Christ say “If there be any other way” and “why hast thou forsaken me.” It’s not just the love of a puppy or parent. Does God love all people? Yes and no… and maybe. I recently read someone saying the sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” misrepresented God. People often don’t realize—any description underrates not overrates his wrath. People often don’t realize—sinners are truly evil, even when they are blind. That’s one side of the coin we sometimes miss; I had to admire a recent book I came across that caught my attention: “God Hates You Just the Way You Are.” He hates you in Adam; he’ll love you in Christ.
And that’s it, no take backs, no gimmies, no mulligans. As the comedian George Carlin says in jest “And if you do any of these things, he will send you to a special place, of burning and fire and smoke and torture and anguish for you to live forever, and suffer, and burn, and scream, until the end of time…… but he loves you.” Well yea, Carlin. Just don’t forget the heaven part. God sent himself to save us from himself; or rather, ourselves. Sin and holiness don’t mix well. That’s the Gospel, and that’s what’s attacked, not just in the world, but in the Church today. I think we can say safely, God’s Word expresses the desire for none to sin; the Cross was not, as the Calvinists would have it, “the greatest evil of all time;” the original sins were. (see here: https://dizernerblog.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/was-the-cross-the-greatest-evil-of-all-time/ )
When Evangelist Jesse Duplantis told a story of being caught up to heaven, he relates at one point Christ expressing his sorrow: “The worst day of my life is yet to come. You know that Scripture where I said I will wipe away all tears in heaven? Those include the tears in My eyes, Jesse. On that great Judgment Day, I will have to tell some of the creation I love to depart from Me. I dread that day. I dread it!” Now that doesn’t seem consistent with vessels of wrath, yet it’s hard to believe God could love something so vile when the corruption of his creation can become so deep. Though even harder to believe, is that God would make something into what he abhors. Yet God’s wrath would be worse than even what Satan could do, and we certainly know he loved us when there was no good thing in us. “I love you but I have to pour this bowl of wrath on you”?
As John Piper rightly says: “I write to defend my Father’s wrath against me before I was adopted. For if God did not punish his Son in my place, I am not saved from my greatest peril, the wrath of God. When a person says God punishing his Son for an offense he did not commit would be as evil as cosmic child abuse, I am angered and grieved. Those who try to rescue God’s love by minimizing God’s wrath, not only undermine the love of God, but his command to love our enemies. Why? Because Paul said that counting on the final wrath of God against his enemies is one of the crucial warrants for why we may not return evil for evil; ‘do not seek revenge but leave room for God’s wrath.’ If God does not show wrath, we could take justice into our own hands; but God says ‘Don’t. I will see to it.'”
Do we really understand the wrath Christ took or that all humans deserve it? Or are we playing with “another Gospel” where the wrath is just a little bit less and the sin is just a little less serious and some humans don’t have to sin because we can’t all be born sinful, and we get into Christ a little easier, without faith or even knowing him? We must know the God whose cup he gave to Christ was the God who said “Take this cup of the wine of wrath from My hand and cause all the nations to whom I send you to drink it.” God so loved the world, but let’s never forget the perishing that happens without that love. The Gospel really is a radical thing; it should ruin our day; it should leave us drastically changed and undone; it should be arresting; it should awaken our eyes to an on-going spiritual war; it should be the power of God in our lives.
Every life we can touch with Christ can matter; but let’s keep the lines clear.
Ok David, I’m jumping in on this one! 🙂 I think you still need to help me see more clearly the difference between having value and being worthy. I can’t seem to separate them. I think we all agree we are undeserving of Salvation as far as any offer from ourselves and we are deserving of His wrath because of our sin, which was guaranteed to happen because of our sin nature (though I do not believe His wrath begins to hang over a soul until its own personal sin).
But there is certainly God given intrinsic value in every human because of His image (and therefore worth) definitely recognized so beautifully by “Simple” as seen in a new born (who even has that evil sin nature lying dormant inside)! But that value remains even after their first sin! And in that value is worth! So much worth that God loved every human and paid for all that sin! You seem to call it potential value, potential love, but it was real love for each one the equally hangs over them during their life (until judicially hardened perhaps) as His wrath hangs over them because of their sin.
That bearing of God’s wrath for sin by Jesus also added intrinsic value to every soul and makes them worthy to hear the good news that they should believe Jesus is that payment, and trust Him to remove all the sinful habits that are in their life. He is providing mercy (love) right now to draw them to experience the fullness of His love by becoming one of His own (becoming even more valuable, receiving more worth for future service).
I guess you might need to ask, whether or not those suffering His wrath forever in hell, still bearing His image, still have intrinsic value because of that image. If they do, what worth do they have?
On a side note, I don’t see the original sins as the worst sins… but the breaking of the greatest commandment. And though the warning of a future experience of God’s wrath should be presented with the gospel, the promise of the gospel is to be immediately and forever removed from the fear of that wrath by the regeneration work of God for all who put their trust in Jesus, who bore the fullness of that wrath for all mankind! Praise His Name!
Quote: But that value remains even after their first sin!
The value is in Christ and Christ alone, as I read Scripture. That’s a deal breaker for me. Why do you think on that last judgment day when Christ divides sheep and goats that Christ says “Whatever you have done to the least of these *my brethren*, you have done to me?” Why not, “Whatever you have done to anyone in the Imago Dei you have done unto me.”
You see: I see Christ as all value. Christ is the Savior because Christ is the value. You know that famous chapter on love that even secular people often like? You know, Love is patient, love is kind, etc. It ends “if I give all I have and my body to burned and have not love.” What?! Who could even do that without love? Have you ever thought about that? So you do it what for 72 virgins or as Romans says for a good man you dare to die?” But you have not love? See, we think of love as a human emotion. I see this chapter as saying one thing and one thing alone: Christ is love. Christ can live through us. This is why Paul ends with “but have not love, I am nothing.” Without Christ we literally are nothing; we are spiritual garbage. This isn’t religious pietism or asceticism or self-inflicted false humility. It’s just a fact, and one our carnality and fallen nature does not like nor naturally adhere to. We want to think of ourselves as worthy. We want to be loved without a Cross anywhere in the picture. Or if the Cross is there, it’s just a token, and not a painful reality.
I really appreciated your feedback and will continue to meditate on your points. I hope I am humble enough to learn from others and receive what God has put into their hearts.
I appreciate greatly, David, your love and honor for Christ and His Word! There is truly a unique and greater love, everlasting love, that only believers (sheep) experience. And it is connected only the Christ!
You make some very good points in your post.
“Quite harsh isn’t it? If you wouldn’t devalue your spouse or child, why devalue mine or the rest of humanity? However, you seem unsure of your convictions based on your statement. But If ever you are in a position to pull the plug on a family member, then you will know for sure whether human life is valuable or worthy of anything.”
Very true observations.
“One mistake many professing Christians make is that they think its humble piety to state things in such a way as to put man lower, as if somehow this would bring God higher. This should never be the case for a Christian; when in secular society, our children have to contend with the brainwashing that they are no more valuable then primordial slime or a prehistoric worm. Words that tend to degrade human value and worth is just not Christ-like.”
I agree with you here, if you listen to some Christians you would think that human persons are just worthless, utterly evil, worthy only of the hatred and condemnation of God (I believe this comes from extreme and unbalanced views on the doctrine of total depravity, correctly formulated it means that sin has effected every part of the human person, their mind, their body, their culture, everything, when formulated wrongly it means that the human person is utterly evil, worthy only of condemnation and it minimizes or neglects the biblical doctrine that man is created in the image of God and therefore has inherent worth).
The trick is to be balanced, we want to maintain BOTH that man is created in the image of God and loved by God and that God desires personal relationship with people AND that mankind is sinful, in rebellion against God, doing evil and capable of incredible evil. It is not easy to present both of these things at the same time and in a balanced way.
“And I concur with Professor Flowers, we should all be in awe at the Imago Dei. Because I don’t know about you, but the first time I created life, as my child passed from the womb unto life and breath her first breathe, one word -“GOD!” I, made in the imago dei, have also created. I knew then what it meant to be “agape” love. Sometimes we just need to stop being theologians and just be a father. Then, we might know what its like- to be like our real Father. If you wouldn’t condemn your child before birth unto hell or merely pass over them not unto life, why would you think the most Holy Father would?”
This is also true, parenting gives you both a good taste of seeing that mankind is created in the image of God and also what it is like to be a loving parent, a loving Father (which gives you and inkling of what it is like for the Heavenly Father and his love of human persons).
And old friend of mine, now deceased did a great job of maintaining this balanced perspective. Francis Schaeffer strongly and biblically presented depravity He also fought for the rights of the unborn and the dignity of being made in the image of God of the unborn, the mentally disabled and the elderly whom some would like to simply eliminate as they no longer “contribute” to humanity.
I commend you for posting a link to my page on “The Arminian Big Three,” though having it embedded in the *footnote:
“*Here is an example of some Calvinists who seek to deny God’s desire and love for everyone.” does appear to poison the well a bit.
The question remains: will you and your readers base your understanding of God’s love based on your cultural tradition or will you base it on careful/faithful exegesis of God’s Word? I encourage all readers to follow the link (on the word “Here” in the footnote) and work through these three texts carefully.
The “a God of Love would never …” arguments are common and understandable, but how many have taken the time to study the doctrine of God’s love? Two books I recommend: “The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God” by D.A. Carson, and “The Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love” by Jonathan Leeman.
I appreciate your cordial reply, but to be honest it is insulting to suggest WE (those who hold to God’s genuine self-sacrifical love for all humanity) do not base our beliefs on “careful/faithful exegesis of God’s Word” but only mere “tradition.”
It is also seems disingenuous of you to reduce the arguments of thousands of excellent exegetes from our perspective to the “a God of love would never arguments” and suggest that we haven’t “taken the time to study” the doctrines any deeper than that. With respect, you are cordial but insulting.
Finally, how is it a “poisoning the well” to say what you yourself affirm regarding God lack of God’s desire/love for everyone? An example of poisoning the well is saying something that isn’t true of your views, but nothing I’ve stated is inaccurate of your view, is it?
I asked legitimate questions that can/should be asked of me or anyone else claiming God’s Word as the ultimate authority and is pursuing truth. We all draw our doctrinal understanding from God’s Word and tradition. The former intentionally and latter unintentionally. We all also struggle with discerning the difference.
As for seeming to be disingenuous–I did not do what you stated there. “A God of love would never …” is an accurate and fair characterization of those who draw their argument from tradition. We live in a culture that thinks it knows God and understands love. Where does the broader culture, and the church that has been influenced by it in varying degrees, derive its understanding of love? For instance, a cultural understanding of God and love would demand that God loves everyone in exactly the same way. Is that what we find in Scripture? Is that what we observe in Jesus’ earthly ministry? The “taken the time to study” statement was also made in that context. It was a question about a specific doctrine and aimed at the broader culture. How many of us get our understanding of love from God and His Word, and how many of us get it from culture?
I would define “poisoning the well” a little differently. I see it as telling people what to think about the source they are about to read before they get a chance to read it and make their own conclusions. Perhaps I used the term wrongly, but that’s what I meant by it. We can leave it to the discernment of the readers to decide if Dr. White and I are really “Calvinists who seek to deny God’s desire and love for everyone.”
It’s your post and thread and you’ve been kind enough to reference my page and leave my recommended resources. Thank you for that. I yield to you the last word.
Hi Tim! I checked out your page! All three of those passages have been discussed on this site. You should check out some of those responses by Leighton and the comments that follow.
But for the Matt. 23:37 passage you boldly state – “One would be hard pressed to make ‘Jerusalem, the city … your … you’ be anyone other than the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus has been rebuking.” Really? Where were you taught how to be contextual in your interpretations. The audience that day was made up of the crowds and His disciples in Jerusalem.
He was mainly talking to His disciples about how to be humble leadership and not to follow the harmful example of the scribes and Pharisees. After His eight “woes” pointing to different examples of their harmful leadership, He finished with a warning of God’s coming judgment on “this generation” in verse 36, not just on the scribes and Pharisees. Then He pronounced His obvious sorrow for all of Jerusalem and His desire for their salvation relationship of being “gathered” to Him. No normal reader would see His lament as being only for the scribes and Pharisees! Really?
As for 1Tim 2:4… did you look close enough at how Paul used the word “all” four times in 2:1-3 before using it in verse four? You do know that the normal use of “all” is a universal, inclusive use and should be chosen, if it fits the context, instead of the less frequent distributive use, that you want, just because it fits your theology.
You asked if Paul was “urging Timothy to pray for every single person in the world?” A closer look points, not to Timothy’s personal prayer life, only, but to his exhortation to the church and its responsibility in prayer. Do you really think Paul believes some individuals should not be prayed for? The same would be true for universal meaning for “all” in Titus 3:11. John 6:37-40 is also discussed thoroughly on this website. The Calvinists try to prove too much from that passage also, and overlook the importance of an individual’s believing and looking to the Son for their salvation.
And as for 2Pet 3:9 the “some” and “any” are translated from the same Greek word. Those who “count” God as being “slow” to return (the same, I believe, who are mocking – “where is the promise of his coming”) are the ones that God never planned to perish, but to come to an opportunity of repentance. The “you” or “us” (Majority reading) is easily understood as an example of a generic pronoun used often in the NT in gnomic passages, like this one, that is all inclusive. Compare Heb 10:26 and Rom 8:13 for examples of both the generic “we” and “you” which could not be pointing to just a saved audience. So the “you” or “we” in 2Pet 3:9 is not just a saved audience, and certainly not a closed group of predetermined elect.
You really would benefit, Tim, to reading more of the posts Leighton has put up, plus the discussions that follow each! I hope you will consider doing so, especially to see how important passages of Scripture are handled, contextually, grammatically, and not just theologically.