Characters in this section:
ISP: Infralapsarian Single-Predestinarian
Argues that the gospel is genuinely offered to all.
SDP: Supralapsarian Double-Predestinarian
Argues that the gospel is genuinely offered to the elect only.
…Begin dialogue text…
ISP: Well, how can we possibly deliver the gospel to everyone if this is true?
SDP: Because it is commanded of us.
ISP: When preaching the gospel, we proclaim the good news. We tell sinners that Christ came, died, and rose again for sinners. We tell them that God loved the world so much that he sent his only begotten Son that whosoever should believe on Him shall not perish!
That is really good news!
We tell men that they are in need of a Savior, that they have broken God’s law, and that God is pleased to grant this day an opportunity to be saved.
We call sinners most urgently, in all sincerity, and indiscriminately.
We do not call sinners indiscriminately and proclaim salvation upon set conditions that may not apply to certain men. We state quite clearly that all men have sinned and a suitable sacrifice for all sinners has been accomplished.
We do not have to worry if one man is elect and one man is not. The message is the sameógood news!
We do not need to hide behind any argument or device that would indicate we can invite all men to salvation based upon the idea that we do not know who is elect and who is not. It makes no difference! God invites all!
Should it be argued that there is a real difference between that which we are commanded to preach and God’s contrary willói.e., He doesn’t really want all men savedóthen we are preaching not the gospel of God, but a perversion of it. We would then be telling some men that God has called them when he hasn’t, that God has proclaimed good news when he hasn’t, and that there is a genuine offer of redemption when there isn’t!
Too many times, Calvinists, almost without thinking, hide behind the idea that because they do not know who the elect are, they are therefore free to preach to all.
This is totally at odds with the Scripture.
1. We are ambassadors. It is not our gospel; it is God’s.
2. It is not we who are calling these sinners to repent; it is God in us doing it.
3. Jesus preached the gospel to all men and he knew who would believe and who wouldn’t. It did not change or alter his message.
SDP: I thoroughly repudiate this unsubstantiated idea that God cannot command (preach to all men) what he does not desire (all men be saved). If this were true, then it would be impossible to even sin. If Godís commands and desires are completely congruent then there could be no sin, for he would not allow it. This argument is terribly flawed.
Iíd like to address your three points directly, however, because they adequately summarize your objections.
1) God commands all men to believe, but only desires the belief of his elect. This is the gospel; therefore, we command all men to repent and believe on Jesus Christ, as this is their duty to God.
2) If you mean inwardly, yes. Does any Calvinist truly deny that? I defy someone to proclaim to me that his delivery of the gospel converted the sinner. If you mean outwardly then the point is irrelevant. We have already discussed the difference between God’s decretive and preceptive will and that the two are not congruent.
3) Precisely. And what was Jesus’s message?
And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. (John 6:39)
The Father has not given the Son all men, but:
This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:40)
And how does one see the Son?
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
And where does faith come from?
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8)
This is the gospel that Jesus preached and the one that we should preach.
ISP: You say you repudiate the idea that God cannot command what he does not desire. So we have men preaching, being sent by God to preach God’s message of love and forgiveness, while all the time God doesn’t desire it!
Your view is terribly flawed! Do you mean to say God commands sin!?
SDP: Are you not a Calvinist and yet you do not understand the difference between God’s commandments and God’s desires? Do you mean to instruct other Christians when you do not know even this basic principle of theology? Do you know so little of the Scriptures to misunderstand those that speak of God doing all that he wills?
What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. (Rom. 7:7)
Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound. (Rom. 5:20)
Paul tells us quite clearly that the law entered so that the sin might abound, for where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. God commanded obedience to the law, but desired that sin exist, so that his grace might be made known in Christ. God is just in commanding obedience to the law, for the law is given by God and deemed righteous in his sight. If God’s commandments were synonymous with his desires, then all men would obey the law. But this is not the case. We are all law-breakers.
ISP: God commands perfection; therefore God desires it. Yet the decree of God does not permit it!
SDP: This does not follow, my friend. Command is an entirely separate term and sense than desire is. Unless you can establish (which you cannot) that God’s commandments and desires are the same, this argument is invalid. The reason you cannot establish that the two coincide is because God commands that we obey the law, but we do not. If God desired that we obey the law, then we would, for whatever God desires happens.
ISP: Some desires are unfulfilled to give way to a desire that is fulfilled. God was pleased that David desired to build the temple. It pleased God; yet, the Lord, for higher reasons, had Davidís son, Solomon, build it.
SDP: What pleased God was David’s obedient heart, not the building of the temple (Ps. 40:6-8; 51:16, 17). It is our faith that pleases God, not our works (Heb. 11:6, Acts 17:25, Prv. 21:4). We are convinced of this, being Calvinists. Nevertheless, God did desire that the temple be built and Solomon did indeed build the temple, as God desired. So, your example does not show contradictory desires in God at all. In fact, it does not even show a hierarchy of desires.
At this point, I feel the issue has been addressed sufficiently. Your arguments have been thoroughly refuted. Rather than continue rehashing what has already been said, I will leave you to reconsider your soteriology: orthodox Calvinism or heterodox hypo-Calvinism.