God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved—1st Timothy 2:3-4
Arminians use the above verse as a proof-text for their erroneous belief that God tries to save everybody and gives people the same chance to go to Heaven. They pluck this verse off the page, slap it down, and say, “Ha!! See!! God wants to save everybody, and he gives everyone the same chance because God is love, all the time love, nothing but love, love, love!” To them, God would never mandate that a certain people were not yet wicked enough for Him to destroy them yet. A God who is all about love, love, love. And if this passage were the only verse in the entire Bible, one could make that case. However, there are thousands more verses in the Scriptures and many of them say the opposite — that Jesus did NOT die for every single person in the whole wide world ever. That Christ’s death was only for particular people, specifically His sheep. (He never said, “I lay down My life for My sheep–and the goats and the dogs and the swine”). And this the same God once said “I can’t destroy them yet because they’re not bad enough.”
Let’s think back to the God of the Old Testament. Is He the same God that we find in the New Testament? To the Arminian, the answer is “no”. The Arminian says that the God of the Old Testament–the one who destroyed entire cities off the face of the earth (Sodom and Gomorrah and the ten surrounding cities), who decreed that entire people groups would come to an end (the Edomites)–is now an “everybody gets a chance” kind of God in the New Testament. But let’s think about it. Who did God give His Law to? The Israelites. Did He give His Law–with all its offerings and sacrifices that covered over sins until Christ came–to the Amalekites and the Hivites and the Jebusites and the Perizzites and the Hittites? No. Well that’s not fair! (PSSSST–Do you really want God to be “fair”? Think about it!) Did God tell Moses that on the Day of Atonement he should go out and gather all the people from all the lands all around them to come to the tent? Or did He tell Moses to gather only the people of Israel? I think we know that answer. The language of Sovereign election is all throughout Scripture, from God choosing Abram (which we will look at shortly) to God choosing the nation of Israel itself, all the way into Revelation, when God chooses which 144,000 descendants of the tribes of Israel will have His seal put upon them.
But there is another episode in Scripture that shows that God not only calls only certain people to Himself, but that He is perfectly willing to allow an entire people to be destroyed and wind up in Hell with no mercy and no chance at redemption. Turn with me to the first book of the Bible, Genesis. Specifically Genesis 15:12-16—12 Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. 13 God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. 14 But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. 15 As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. 16 Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” Let us discuss this passage a moment, because we see God choosing certain people for Himself, and we also see Him will that certain others be damned.
First we see here that God chose for Himself Abram. What was Abram doing when God called Him? He was simply living out his days in southeastern Iraq where, according to many scholars, Abram and his father were idol makers. So there he was, carving his idols when one day
he told his father, “Father, I have made a decision to serve YHVH, the God of heaven and earth!” GOD CHOSE HIM out of all the people living on planet earth at the time. Why? What was the reason God chose Abram? God obviously saw what great faith Abram would have, and as He looked down the corridors of time He saw that Abram would be faithful chose Abram because He wanted to. That was the good purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:5). Did He tell Abram to take along mom and dad and his uncles and aunts? NO. In fact, God told Abram to leave them all behind (see Genesis 12:1). So God chose one man.
Now, let’s come back to Genesis 15. This is the night God made the covenant with Abram And He tells Abram that his descendants will be slaves in another land. They will serve with rigour and be oppressed by a man–a man who
freely chose to yield himself to God’s will was raised up by God Himself. Romans 9:17—For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So Abram’s descendants would be slaves to Pharaoh, whom God raised up, but then look at what God says about that man, and those in the land that would oppress Abram’s descendants: “They will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. I will also judge the nation whom they will serve” (Genesis 15:13-14). God raised up Pharaoh, and by God’s will the descendants of Abram were put in bondage and oppressed by that Pharaoh that God raised up–and then God punishes them for performing His will! God would never do that! (Actually, He would, and He did)
But then look at what God tells Abram in His next declaration. Genesis 12:16—“Then in the fourth generation they will return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Read that last clause again, carefully. “The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” What is He saying? He’s telling Abram,
“You’re not going into that land yet because I have not had a chance to save those people from Hell” “You’re not going into this land I have promised you just yet, because the people that are living there have not become wicked enough yet. I’m going to let them store up 400 more years of wickedness–THEN I’m gonna wipe ’em out.” And in the book of Numbers, we read that God sent Moses and the people of Israel, and they taught His Law to the Amorites so that they could worship Him and be saved attacked the Amorites, took all their stuff, and wiped them off the earth.
Think about that! God sent His people–a people whom HE CHOSE (see Deuteronomy 7:7-8) to destroy a people that God allowed to build up 400 years of wickedness. A people that God said “They’re not bad enough yet”. No mercy. No second chance. In fact, not even a first chance to repent. He did not allow them to hear His Law so their sins could be covered. And knowing that the Amorites were pagans who worshipped idols, where did they go when they were killed? So then we see God being perfectly content to allow an entire people to be destroyed with no mercy and no chance at forgiveness and then to go straight to Hell.
But the Arminian would have you think this is same Old Testament God would NEVER do something like in the New Testament because He wants to save everybody, and doesn’t want to send anyone to Hell. But such a one still finds opposition in the New Testament, and from no less than our Lord Himself. Luke 10:21—At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” God has chosen to hide things from certain people? That’s not fair! Those people will die without knowing these truths!
So what do we say then? Does God on one hand declare and command that all men everywhere repent? Does He want all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of God? Yes. But does He make it possible for all men to know Him and be saved? No. “Well, then you Calvinists don’t make much sense with your God who wants to save everybody but doesn’t do it!” And that response stems from the ignoring the very clear text in Romans 9:21-24—21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us, whom He also called. He wants all men to be saved, but He does not save all men. Why? In order to demonstrate His hatred of sin and to show the vessels of honor that He prepared for glory the infinite patience and grace He shows us by saving us, when we were, by all rights, just as wicked and evil as the vessels of wrath He made for destruction.
“The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full”. These words should chill us all. To think that God allows some men to live longer than they probably should, just so they can grow more wicked and rebellious, and because they’re just not bad enough yet, and He allows them to become even more wicked so He can punish them even more. Unlike the God preached in many churches today–the One who gives everybody a chance because we’re wicked, wretched, depraved sinners who spend our lives rebelling against the God of all creation. And because we are so filthy and vile we deserve a chance to be saved. Er……something