The Sovereignty of God
Unwanted Results of an Inordinate Emphasis on the Exercise of Sovereignty
The Universal Love of God is brought into Question
Another victim of an over emphasis on the sovereignty of God is the Bible’s clear declaration of God’s love for the whole world. One of the greatest verses for all time is John 3:16 which unmistakably proclaims God’s love for the entire world. Any doctrine or teaching which would bring into question this clear and simple truth is more dangerous to truth than it is beneficial to the body of Christ.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
To the disappointment of many, sovereignty extremists bring the clear and simple meaning of John 3:16 into question. They by their hermeneutical gymnastics make this verse mean something much different than its simple and obvious meaning. They claim that both God loved the world and that God only loved the name by name chosen. Both can only be true in their warped hermeneutical gymnastics with scripture.
Both cannot be true; because with their interpretation, you have to believe that God hated by His pleasure the bulk of men who have or who will ever live. This reprobation by arbitrary pleasure of God means the opposite of God’s love for the whole world. Rather than John 3:16 meaning what it says; they demand that it means that God loved the elect chosen by name before the foundation of the world and all others will go to hell. Followers of Calvin have no other choice but to believe this; else, they are “childish” according to Calvin.
29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
1 John 2:2
2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.
Although God clearly states that Jesus died for the entire world, the concept of Jesus dying for the world because of God’s love is diluted till it means what the sovereignty extremists want it to mean. I have listen first-hand to an expositor much loved by the Reformed Theologian explain away, in detail, 1 John 2:2. He unashamedly said that at first reading it says that Jesus died for the whole world, but it demands a closer study to truly understand what God was saying.
The love of God becomes a double edged sword. Rather than loving the world his love is so restricted by their demand for choice that the bulk of the world is hated by God. The love is only for those chosen by name individually. The sin cursed world filled with the poor, the destitute, the hopeless, the suffering, and the sinful were never included in God’s love, because before the foundation of the world most were by the pleasure of God decreed by name to be hell bound.
To see what the love of God actually means you must read the fine-print disclaimers which are the bait and switch of the sovereignty extremists who have deliberately minimized the scope and effectiveness of God’s love.
God gave the New Testament in the common Greek language. It was meant to be understood by the common man. It was even written in the common language by common men for common man. To imagine that common statements require enlightenment because of hidden meaning is offensive to the whole tenor of God’s actions and Word. If he did not mean the whole world why did he say it over and over? God meant the whole world; else truly, Jesus did come into the world to double damn and condemn.
Calvin wrote the following.
Although the Holy Scriptures contain a perfect doctrine, to which nothing can be added—our Lord having been pleased therein to unfold the infinite treasures of his wisdom—still every person, not intimately acquainted with them, stands in need of some guidance and direction, as to what he ought to look for in them, that he may not wander up and down, but pursue a certain path, and so attain the end to which the Holy Spirit invites him.
Hence it is the duty of those who have received from God more light than others to assist the simple in this matter, and, as it were, lend them their hand to guide and assist them in finding the sum of what God has been pleased to teach us in his word. (Calvin, J. (1997). Institutes of the Christian religion. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)
It is not a mistake to read the words of those who have studied diligently the Word of God. However, it must be remembered; they are the words of fallible men upon the Words of an infallible God. God says he loved the world and without hermeneutical gymnastics, it would be wholly unquestioned.