DISCUSSIONS ON DISPUTED TEXTS
10. OBJECTIONS AND QUESTIONS ANSWERED
Presenting the truth of God’s word to the child of God, we now move on to the objections raised against such truths. The objections being answered are those raised by Arminians of all sorts. Here, we shall mainly focus on those objections raised by Laurence Vance in his book The Other Side of Calvinism and those by Edwin Jardinel in an article entitled “The Missionary Baptist’s and the Calvinist’s Doctrine of Election Compared: Part 5-Misinterpretation of John 3:16.” In that article, Jardinel also asks questions regarding the atonement, and since they are given in the context of addressing John 3:16, we shall attempt to answer those as well. Many have been answered sufficiently, but we shall move on and answer to the extent we feel is needful.
OBJECTION 1: The word “world” is used in difference sense, but it’s never used to refer to the elect. (Vance, page 435)
Such a statement is false, for we have proven with John 1:29, 6:33, 51, and 2 Corinthians 5:19 that the elect are identified as the world, along with reasons for their identification as such. Vance quotes numerous Calvinists who state that the world is the elect, but what proof is offered to disprove that the elect are indeed being spoken of? Hardly none whatsoever. He quotes the Calvinists (such as Hoeksema, Owen, Pink, etc.) as examples of the “silliness” of our interpretation and merely dismisses them as such, with hardly no proof at all. Are we to take such an one serious? We will consider the few arguments he does present to teach that the verses we have provided to prove an elect world do not actually teach an elect world.
OBJECTION 2: The impetration and application of Christ’s sacrifice are to be distinguished; the impetration was for all, the application is only for those who believe and accept it. (Vance, page 427)
Of John 1:29, he uses this verse to prove the doctrine of expiation, of which he says, “The sacrificial ransom of Christ was a penal expiation in that it removed the guilt of sin by the canceling of purging it out. Expiation respects the effect which satisfaction has upon sin or the sinner. This is accomplished by the vicarious suffering of our penalty by Jesus Christ” (page 418). If an actual removal of the guilt of sins has taken place, then God is unjust for damning those to hell who have their guilt of sin removed by Christ’s sacrifice. He makes a distinction between the sacrifice and its application, “The blood of the slain Passover lamb (Exo. 12:6, 21) became efficacious only after it was applied to the doorpost per instructions (Exo. 12:7, 22)” (page 427). This is true, and we in no way deny it. But this truth is abused to teach that those for whom Christ died only receive its special blessings if it is applied, for His atonement is dependent upon man’s faith in that atonement. We shall quote from and present the arguments in John Owen’s The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, who ably set forth the truth of the matter.
…Christ hath purchased remission of sins and eternal life for us, to be enjoyed on our believing, upon the condition of faith. But faith itself, which is the condition of them, on whose performance they are bestowed, that he hath procured for us absolutely, on no condition at all… page 112
If there be a condition for the application of Christ’s atonement, whether one say it is repentance and faith, all have been freely bestowed and are fruits of Christ’s work which He performed. They are procured by Christ’s work and are sure to be given to the elect. Hence, the argument is faulty. The following Scriptures are provided to prove that the impetration of Christ’s atonement is conjoined to its application:
1. Isaiah 53:11 – The impetration is seen in the words “for he shall bear their iniquities” and the application is in “by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many.” Both are joined together, the former necessitating and procuring the latter.
2. Romans 5:18 – The impetration is in the words “By the righteousness of one” and the application of it follows, “the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.”
3. Romans 8:32-34 – Here, we shall quote John Owen once more, for he said it better than we ever could.
First, That for whom God gives his Son, to them, in him, he freely gives all things; therefore, all things obtained by his death must be bestowed, and are, on them for whom he died, verse 32.
Secondly, They for whom Christ died are justified, are God’s elect, cannot be condemned, nor can anything be laid to their charge; all of which he hath purchased for them must be applied to them, for by virtue thereof it is that they are so saved, verses 33, 34.
Thirdly, For whom Christ died, for them he maketh intercession. Now, his intercession is for the application of those things, as is confessed, and therein he is always heard. Pages 113-4
Vance is left with an unjust god who requires two everlasting penalties for the same sins.
OBJECTION 3: “Likewise, although Christ gave his flesh for the life of the world, individual men must eat of it (John 6:51), which is defined as believing (John 6:27-29). (Vance, page 436)
The very world that Christ gave His life for have this faith procured for them, by His obedience and righteousness (2 Peter 1:1). On behalf of Christ’s finished work on Calvary, the elect of God are given this faith to believe in Him (Philippians 1:29). The world of the elect is made up of individuals who indeed believe in Christ, for it is a fruit of election (Acts 13:48).
OBJECTION 4: In 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19, the “us” does not define the “world” because Paul contrasts “us” with the “world” in other passages (1 Corinthians 2:12; Galatians 1:4). (Vance, page 438)
The “us” and “the world” are presented in 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19 as being receivers of the same blessing: reconciliation. Both are reconciled to God and are both objects of the same action of reconciliation. In 1 Corinthians 2:12 and Galatians 1:4, we are not again presented with “the world” and “us” being the objects of reconciliation, nor any other blessing, nor any other action at that. Also, “the world” in those passages speak not of the same world either (see the brief listing of the world and its usage in Scripture). As the “us” have their sins imputed to Christ (verse 21), so must also “the world” (that’s if the world isn’t really the elect) by virtue of being the same object of the same act. The distinction between the impetration and application that Vance raises (page 437) has been answered above.
OBJECTION 5: The elect could not be reconciled at the cross because they didn’t exist. The elect could not be reconciled until they believed, because they were in their sins until they were saved (1 Cor. 15:17). (Vance, page 438).
If it be true that we could not have been reconciled at the cross, then all the verses which speak of such a reconciliation at the cross are false (Daniel 9:24; Hebrews 2:17; Ephesians 2:16; Romans 5:10; etc.). Though the execution of this reconciliation was at the cross, the elect personally experience this reconciliation in time. The entire verse takes place in the past tense, not at believing, but on Christ’s work. As for the purpose of proving the elect are not justified until faith by using 1 Corinthians 15:17, I have no clue. Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world and God looked upon Him as such, hence the OT saints were saved as we are (Revelation 17:8; Romans 4; etc.).
OBJECTION 6: If the elect were actually reconciled, then the ministry of reconciliation makes no sense. (Vance, page 438)
In answer to this objection, I shall quote from Part I: Section 40 of John Gill’s The Cause of God and Truth.
Admitting the ministry of the word is here designed, that is not an offer of reconciliation to the world; but a proclamation or declaration of peace, made by the blood of Jesus, of reconciliation to the world; but a proclamation or declaration of peace, made by the blood of Jesus, of reconciliation by the death of the Son of god: nor is this ministry of reconciliation sent to all men; millions of people were dead and gone before and since the word of reconciliation was committed to the apostles, who never so much as heard of this ministry; nor did it reach to all that were alive at the present time. Besides, the text does not speak of what God did by the ministry of his apostles, but of what he himself had been doing in his Son, and which was antecedent, and gave rise unto, and was the foundation of their ministry. There was a scheme of reconciliation drawn in God’s counsels before the world began, and an actual reconciliation by the death of Christ, which is published in the gospel by the ministers of it, and which is not published to all mankind; nor did the apostles entreat all men to whom they preached to be reconciled to God; the exhortation in the following verse, be ye reconciled to God, is given not to all men, but to the believing Corinthians, for whom Christ was made sin, and they made the righteousness of God in him.
OBJECTION 7: The Calvinist interpretation makes no sense since Paul is beseeching people to be reconciled to God. (Vance, page 438)
We again provide the answer that John Gill has given in the same section, which was briefly touched on above, but here more fully.
That reconciliation was made for Gentiles as well as Jews, was not only a reason why the apostles, to whom the word of reconciliation was committed, carried it among the Gentiles, but was also a noble argument to engage the believing Gentiles at Corinth to regard the exhortation made unto them, verse 20, be ye reconciled to God, that is, to his providential dispensations towards them, to the order and ordinances of his house, to the form of discipline he had fixed in the church, and to all the laws of Christ, as King of saints, since he had been reconciling them to himself by his Son, the blessed effects of which they then enjoyed. This exhortation, was not made to unconverted sinners, much less to the non-elect, but to the church of Christ, professing faith in him, and who were reconciled to God’s way of salvation by him.
OBJECTION 8: The context of John 3, going back to the event of Numbers 21, disproves the Calvinist argument. (Vance, page 435-6)
To this we waste not our time, for the first point we proved using the word “for” in John 3:16 was that it brought us back to verses 14 and 15, which go back to Numbers 21, and proved from there that God’s work would accomplished that which it was set forth to do. The reader is encouraged to read the Scriptures we have presented and may God bless him with more knowledge concerning this matter. The context is also clear, going further back to the necessity of regeneration, which is a free act of the Holy Spirit (John 3:8), not an act of our freewill (John 1:13). Such a context furthers the fact that the elect are the objects of all the salvific acts occurring in the text.
OBJECTION 9: According to Calvinism, the elect were never in danger of perishing, nor can be, so John 3:16 doesn’t make any sense in the Calvinist understanding. (Vance, page 436)
As we have shown earlier in our discussion on the structure of the verse, their not perishing was a desire of God, resulting from an eternal love that He had for them. Their salvation was sure and procured by Christ’s work, all that that would possibly be needed for the salvation of the elect, the reconciliation unto God, their justification, their sanctification, their preservation, their conversion, their sealing, their regeneration, their calling, their glorification and all the other wonderful blessings were are certain in eternity, in the counsel that God held with His Son, wherein the design of man’s salvation was determined, so the elect were certain not to perish, other than the fact that they could not, for God made them vessels of honor and not of wrath. John 3:16 gives us the ultimate cause for our not being able to perish, that being God’s sovereign will and love to the elect.
OBJECTION 10: The world can’t be the elect, but all and every single individual, because the world is defined as the elect in verse 19. (Vance, page 436)
In the middle of verse 18, the statements Jesus Christ made no longer expound upon the world and God’s love for them, but the condemnation of the unbelievers. With that, an understanding of this condemnation is given in verses 19 and 20, and Christ explains this condemnation as men loving darkness rather than loving light. He is not defining the world, for the world doesn’t come into condemnation as a result of Christ’s death (Romans 8:34). He is defining those who are not of the world, who are not a part of that work mentioned in John 3:16, 17, but he is saying who those under condemnation are, which are men. The objects of God’s love are given in verses 16 and 17, while the objects of condemnation are given in verse 19.
OBJECTION 11: If we are to understand John 3:16, 19 in the Calvinist sense, then we come out with the following: “For God so loved the (elect), that he gave his only begotten Son (to the elect), that whosoever (of the elect) believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life…And this is the condemnation that light is come into the (world of the elect), and the (elected men) loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil.” (Jardinel article)
This kind of argumentation results in a misunderstanding of the Calvinistic understanding of the passage as a whole. Of course, those who read our entire discussion on this passage of Scripture will realize the claim is simply false. Notice that it is true that God loved the elect. Christ gave His only begotten Son, not to the elect, but the elect to Him in eternity. The giving here though is His Son to perform His will and accomplish the full and free salvation for the elect of God. Notice also how the word “whosoever” is taken out of its rightful place to be made to stand alone. Such is not the case, as we have proved above. It’s a coupled phrase, “whosoever believeth.” This is a further indication of those who are God’s object of love, as we have before considered. The next “world” is not the world of the elect of God, but the planet earth. Light came into planet earth, came in among men, dwelt among them, and the men under condemnation, God’s vessels of wrath, loved their sin and darkness more than light because their deeds were evil.
OBJECTION 12: The adverb “rather” in verse 19 implies that the men had a choice to choose between the light and their sins. The only way they can choose between light and their sins is if the light is offered to them. The light is offered to all as is seen in John 1:5, 7, 9. (Jardinel article)
The word “rather” is indeed an adverb. But the passage doesn’t just say “rather” but “rather than.” This is important, for while the former is an adverb, the latter is a conjunctional phrase meaning “and not.” So the meaning of the verse is, light came into the world and men loved darkness and not the light. In trying to prove that the verse implies men had an offer and chose their sins, he only exposed his ignorance of the English language and built a false argument from thence. But, for the sake of the interested reader, we will answer his charge of John 1:5, 7, 9. The verses read, “And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehendeth it not…The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe…That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” In verse 1 of the same chapter, Christ is presented as God. Being God, it was Him who created all things (verse 2). Being the Creator of all things, He also gave life to His creatures that He created, and this is what is meant in verse 4. The light was the light of conscience, which all men have. After the fall, the conscience of man was marred, not obliterated, and by the light that now shines within them, they cannot comprehend correctly that which the light sheds upon them. Verse 7 respects the ministry of John, which was not to every single individual, but unto the Jews and them alone. God’s people within the Jews were the intent of John the Baptist’s ministry, these are the all that might believe. It was said of John the Baptist, “And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins…To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace” (Luke 1:76, 77, 79). This was spoken by his father, while prophesying and filled with the Holy Ghost. Those who obeyed John’s preaching manifested that they were the true people of God. Verse 9 regards the conscience again, which is in every single person that comes into the world. To compare it to John 3:19, and say both are speaking of the same light, is to err, for here every man is enlightened. Every single individual has not been enlightened by the gospel of Jesus Christ, for many have died without hearing it, knowing it, nor coming into contact with one single Christian. These verses provided speak nothing of an offer of Jesus Christ, nor come close to it. To say so is to wrest the Scriptures to ones own destruction.
OBJECTION 13: If Christ is offered to all, then Christ died for all, or else the offer wouldn’t be genuine. (Jardinel article)
We have yet to find such a verse that teaches that Jesus Christ is offered to every single man. I personally never make an offer of Christ and His work to all when proclaiming the gospel. Indeed, to offer Christ to all, not knowing whether or not Christ died for them, is indeed treacherous, and ought not be done. But proclaiming that Christ died for the sins of His people, and those who believe to the saving of the soul manifest that they were indeed His people, is not treacherous at all.
OBJECTION 14: Eternal security is not taught in John 3:36, because the Greek word means to believe, and also to be committed unto. So, believing is not a one time deal, but a continual thing, and he who doesn’t believe anymore loses their salvation. (Patrick Harris, “Corrections of the Misunderstandings of OSAS Scriptures”: www.geocities.com/1christlover/OSAS-Corrections.html)
Believing indeed is not a one-time event, but a continual belief in the Son of God who died for the elect. Salvation is not a condition for salvation, but a blessing flowing forth from it. The elect are those that believe unto the saving of the soul (Hebrews 10:39), for God works in them to do His will (Philippians 2:13), which is their salvation, and Christ continues that work which was started in us, till the day He comes back for His own (Philippians 1:6; John 6:29).
After answering those questions that we have run into, we now move on to the questions presented in Edwin Jarindel’s article.
QUESTION 1: Can a person reject something that is not offered to him?
Rejection implies something was presented, not necessarily offered. Christ was rejected of men (Isaiah 53:3) and was the rejected stone (Matthew 21:42). He was proclaimed to be the promised Messiah, presented as such, yet they of Israel didn’t accept Him as the Messiah, the Son of God, and in this sense are we to take His rejection. Christ is never in the Scriptures presented as an offer to every single individual.
QUESTION 2: If Christ was not offered as a Savior to some people, how come they were able to reject Christ? John 12:47-48
Again, this rejection was a rejection of Christ as Messiah, for He said, “He that rejecteth me.” In context, He is emphasizing the fact that He is of the Father and came to do His work, yet the Jews still rejected Him as being the Messiah and coming from the Father.
QUESTION 3: Did Christ sincerely offer eternal life to the Jews who rejected Him? John 5:39-40 How can he offer salvation if they were not included in His atonement?
Verse 39 is not a command to be saved, but is a command to search the Scriptures as the final testimony which Christ presents as proof of His equality with the Father (verse 18). They were to search the very Book they used to base their belief of having eternal life, because that very same Book testified of Christ and His deity. By the Scriptures here mentioned, we should understand those written through Moses (verse 46). They based their hope of eternal life in the commandments of God, which may be inferred from Matthew 19:16-22 (as well as the many arguments of Paul against keeping the law for salvation or justification in Romans, Galatians, etc), keeping them, hoping to have life by obeying them. Christ in essence tells them, “You go to the Scriptures wherein you think you have eternal life, yet those Scriptures testify of me, the giver of life, yet you go to the Scriptures without going to me, and believe Moses and don’t believe me.” It’s a contradiction to believe one and not the other, as it is a contradiction to believe you have eternal life based on the Scriptures, yet you don’t go to Christ to have eternal life. Christ was emphasizing their depravity and hypocrisy.
QUESTION 4: Did Christ sincerely want the people in Chorazin and Bethsaida to repent or was He just joking? Matthew 11:20-24 Why would He want them to repent if He thinks they cannot repent? Why would He want them to repent if He is not offering salvation to them? 2 Cor. 7:9-10
What we are to understand by this passage is not inward repentance from sin and to Christ, as a result of God’s effectual call to salvation, but legal repentance, which is signified by the sackcloth and ashes mentioned, which would result in the saving of their city, as those in Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah. We ironically find that Christ’s attitude was one of happiness that the Father blinded people according to His will, because it seemed good in His sight, and revealed His truth unto babes (verse2 25 and 26). The latter passage speaks of saving repentance, but the former does not.
QUESTION 5: Does God want some people to reject Christ? Why won’t He cause all to believe in Christ? Is God pleased if others remain unbelievers? Ezek. 33:11
The answer to the first question is, “Yes” and “No.” We have showed before that God ordained men to reject Christ, and they were objects of His wrath. The reason He won’t have all believe in Christ is for Him to display His justice and holiness in judging their abominable sin, which is theirs, and not God’s. Those not elected to salvation must believe, but not unto salvation. If they believe not, they make God a liar (1 John 5:10), and God judges them for this sin.