You know, I’m getting a little tired of this whole, “Does God love everybody?” debate. And I’m in full agreement with Phil that there should be a moratorium on the debate. So unless something happens this will probably be my last post about it (until the next one, of course).
How does this even become a question in our minds? Why must we ask whether or not God desires all men to come to repentance? Doesn’t the fact that he ‘commands all men everywhere to repent’ (Acts 17:30) at least point us in that direction? I mean, listen, he doesn’t only desire that all men repent…he commands all men to repent! But after hearing a superb sermon on Acts 17:22-31 last night, I wanted to point out something I saw in the text. Look at this;
And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, “‘For we are indeed his offspring.’ Being then God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent,… (Act 17:26-30)
So what Paul is saying here is that God created every human, right? And not only that he created everything , but that he also, by his own sovereign will of course, determined when and where each and every one of these humans would live. Are you with me so far? Good.
Paul now anticipates a question from his hearers. Why would God do such a thing? Why would God, who created everything and everyone, place all these different people in all these different places and times? Why doesn’t everyone automatically believe that Paul’s God is the only true God, and why aren’t they all living together in one place and time? God certainly could have done it that way. But he didn’t.
We all know the story, God created Adam and Eve, they fell through the deceit of the serpent and by their fall plunged all humanity into sin, and that sin separates all of humanity from God. Later, at the Tower of Babel, again because of sin, God confuses the languages and everyone is spread out across the world. That’s how God did all of this. Did he author sin? No. Did he work out our sin to accomplish his will? Yes. And his will was to do something for us. It was to put us in various times and places so that we would seek after him.
Look at this again, God made from one man every nation and tribe and language, and then he put each of these nations tribes and languages in different places at different times in order to motivate every single person who has ever lived ‘to feel their way toward him’.
Now as a good Calvinist, I’ve got to tell you this as well. When we do not seek after God according to the light of general revelation which he has granted each and every one of us, then we are condemning ourselves. That’s what the same Apostle Paul tells us in Romans 1:18-25.
And as a good Calvinist I’ve also got to tell you this. No one seeks after God. (Romans 3:11)
So what we see is that God really wants people to seek after him, to repent of their sins, and to love him, and he has created a world that screams out his glory every day. But no one hears. But God already knew about this. He created us. But even before he created us, he knew us, all of us. And in his wisdom, he chose a specific number of people living in different places at different times that he would most assuredly save from their sins by lifting the veil from their eyes. In other words, they wouldn’t have to feel after him, or seek after him, but he would show up on their doorstep one day and say, “Here I am.”
That’s where the Gospel comes in guys. Jesus came into this world as the perfect revelation of the glory of God. Who better to reveal God than himself? And here is how Jesus is revealing God to the elect. He sends preachers into all the world preaching his death, burial, and resurrection to everyone, and every once in a while we get to preach the Gospel to one of those chosen people, the Holy Spirit reveals the glory of God in the face of Christ to them and they believe.
The question is not, “Does God love everybody?”, or, “Is everyone invited to the cross of Christ?”, or even, “Does God desire the salvation of everyone?” The question is, “Does God’s love for all men negate his decrees?” I’m of the opinion that it doesn’t.
Everyone who gets into Heaven gets there ultimately because of God’s unmerited choice of them, and everyone who goes to Hell goes there in spite of the fact that God loves them. He has been more than fair to them. So great is his love for them that he is close enough to each and every one of them to be touched, and he is longsuffering towards them, giving them space to repent, and finally as we carry out our mission of proclaiming the Gospel to every creature, he commands them to repent.
Now it’s invitation time. You’re reading this, trying to figure out what these Christians are fighting about. God has given you every opportunity to seek after him and you haven’t. Now he’s commanding you to repent and follow after him. It’s time. Put your faith in Christ. He died for sinners. Follow him.
The rest of you, you know who you are, God has sent us into all the world to preach the Gospel. Do it. Put that question of whether you’re allowed to tell people that Christ died for them out of your mind and get busy.