John 3:16 and God's Love for the World

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Travis Fentiman, Jul 4, 2014.

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  1. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis


    Your Rutherford quotation against Hooker is aimed at the Arminian objection to the Reformed distinction between the decretive and preceptive will. Rutherford answers both of them: "But we answer to both: God by his Decree ordains what shall come to pass or not come to pass, or what shall fall out or not fall out, be it good in his effective Decree, or be it evil in his permissive Decree: For all things were written in his book, when as yet they were not, even all Davids Members, Ps. 139.16, Eph. 1.11. But God by his approving Will does not decree what shall come to pass or not come to pass, but onely commands what is good, and promises rewards accordingly, and forbids what is evil, and threateneth punishment, whether the good or the evil come to pass, or never come to pass."

    Rutherford specifically distinguishes between thing and event. He does not make your error of applying the revealed will to events.
  2. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

  3. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    They are indefinite universals, as has been pointed out many times. Your view makes definite what is indefinite and entangles the word of God in contradictions.

    An unloving love, a love in word but no deed, as Rutherford explains. This love cannot be in God, as much as it appeals to the sentimentality of those who make human happiness to be the chief end of God.
  4. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Good point
  5. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    What does this mean exactly? Is Rutherford saying that God only has true love for elect, and that any other goodness that he gives to creatures is actually just a curse from God that will damn them more?

    These are good quotes. Any from Calvin or Luther?

    Also Matthew Winzer,

    I have a couple question for you, sorry if i do not state them clearly, and sorry if my questions seem out there. I am really just trying to keep up and figure out what you and Travis are saying.

    1) If you do not believe that God has any desire for reprobates to be saved, then is the the invitation to be saved ever really given to them in the gospel?
    Example: And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. (Acts 2:38 ESV)
    Was that said to all men but really only meant and sincere (from God) towards the elect?

    2)Does God love the reprobate at all?
  6. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    I guess a good example is the rich young ruler in Mark. Did Jesus really desire him to be saved? If yes, is it because you think he was elected and came back later or because he has a general love for his creation as a creator or because we has a general love to save him because by nature Jesus is a savior or maybe something else? If no, then what does the txt mean when it says Jesus loved him?
  7. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Matt Ford,

    Samuel Rutherford answers your question about God's love for the reprobate here:

    From his Christ Dying and Drawing Sinners

    1. He loves all that he has made, so far as to give them a being, to conserve them in being as long as he pleases. He had a desire to have sun, moon, stars, earth, heaven, sea, clouds, air. He created them out of the womb of love and out of goodness, and keeps them in being. He can hate nothing that he made.

    2. There is a second love and mercy in God, by which he loves all men and angels, yea, even his enemies, makes the sun to shine on the unjust man as well as the just, and causes dew and rain to fall on the orchard and fields of the bloody and deceitful man, whom the Lord abhors, as Christ teaches us, Matt. 5:43-48. Nor doth God miscarry in this love. He desires the eternal being of damned angels and men; he sends the gospel to many reprobates, and invites them to repentance and with longanimity and forbearance suffers pieces of froward dust to fill the measure of their iniquity, yet does not the Lord’s general love fall short of what he wills to them.

    As far as Calvin, you can read him on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel here:

    John Calvin on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel | Reformed Books Online
  8. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Is Matthew Poole's Commentary on the Bible Arminian?

    1 Tim. 2:4

    " the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth."​

    Verse 4

    The apostle produces a clear, convincing reason, that the duty of charity in praying for all men is pleasing to God, from his love extended to all, in his willing their salvation, and their knowledge and belief of the gospel, which is the only way of salvation. From hence our Savior’s commission and command to the apostles was universal: Go and teach all nations, Matthew 28:19; Preach the gospel to every creature, that is, to every man, Mark 16:15; He excludes no people, no person. And accordingly the apostles discharged their office to their utmost capacity, Colossians 1:24. But a question arises, how it can be said that God would have all men saved, when that the most of men perish? For the resolving this difficulty, we must observe, that in the style of Scripture the will of God sometimes signifies his eternal counsel and decree; that things should be done either by his immediate efficiency, or by the intervention of means: or, secondly, His commands and invitations to men to do such things as are pleasing to him. The will of God in the first sense always infallibly obtains its effect, Psalms 115:3; thus he declares: My counsel shall stand, I will do all my pleasure, Isaiah 46:10; for otherwise there must be a change of God’s will and counsel, or a defect of power, both which assertions are impious blasphemy. But those things which he commands and are pleasing to him, are often not performed without any reflection upon him, either as mutable or impotent. Thus he declares, that He wills things that are pleasing to him; as, I will not the death of a sinner, but that he should turn and live, Ezekiel 33:11; and sometimes that He will not those things that are displeasing to him, as contrary to holiness, though he did not decree the hindering of them: thus he complains in Isaiah 55:12: Ye did evil before mine eyes, and did choose that wherein I delighted not. This distinction of the Divine will being clearly set down in Scripture, answers the objection; for when it is said in the text, that God will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth; and in the same sense by St. Peter, that God will have none perish, but come to repentance, 2 Peter 3:9; we must understand it, not with respect to his decretive will, but his complacential will, that is, the repentance and life of a sinner is very pleasing to his holiness and mercy. And this love of God to men has been declared in opening the way of salvation to them by the Mediator, and by all the instructions, invitations, commands, and promises of the gospel, assuring them that whoever comes to Christ upon the terms of the gospel shall in no wise be cast off; that no repenting believer shall be excluded from saving mercy.​

    Verse 5

    The apostle proves the universal love of God to men by two reasons, the unity of God, and the unity of the Mediator: though there are divers societies and vast numbers of men, yet there is but one God, the Creator and Preserver of all. If there were many gods in nature, it were conceivable that the God of Christians were not the God of other men, and consequently that His good will were confined to his own portion, leaving the rest to their several deities; but since there is but one true God of the world, who has revealed himself in the gospel, it necessarily follows that He is the God of all men in the relation of Creator and Preserver. And from hence he concludes: God will have all men to be saved. He argues in the same manner that salvation by faith in Christ belongs to the Gentiles as well as the Jews, Romans 3:29,30. The apostle adds, for the clearest assurance of his good will of God to save men, that there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. When the sin of man had provoked Divine justice, and the guilt could not be expiated without satisfaction, God appointed his Son incarnate to mediate between his offended Majesty and his rebellious subjects. And it is observable, the parallel between the unity of God and the unity of the Mediator; as there is one God of all nations, so there is one Mediator of all. The strength of the apostle’s argument from the unity of the Mediator is this: If there were many mediators, according to the numbers of nations in the world, there might be a suspicion whether they were so worthy and so prevalent as to obtain the grace of God, every one for those in whose behalf they did mediate. But since there is but one, and that he is able to save to the uttermost all that come to God by him, it is evident that all men have the same Mediator, and that every one may be assured that God is willing he should be saved, and, for that blessed end, should by faith and repentance accept the covenant of grace. The apostle for the stronger confirmation specifies the Mediator,​

    John Collinges on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel | Reformed Books Online
  9. whirlingmerc

    whirlingmerc Puritan Board Sophomore

    There can be blessings that go beyond seeing an offer. The rain God sends on the righteous and the unrighteous, that grace could have been bought by Jesus on the cross as well.

    1 Timothy 4:10 ESV For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2014
  10. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    No, it could not. What Christ bought on the cross is clearly revealed to us in Scripture. Furthermore, the passage you quoted simply means that God is the preserver of life for the whole creation, including the wicked, but those in Christ have been "especially," that is, spiritually provided for. Check the word "Savior" in any greek lexicon and you will see what I'm talking about.
  11. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman


    What does this mean? It sounds like he is saying God failed at loving them enough to bring to bring them to repentance.
  12. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Do you believe in the definite atonement? Because if you do, i want to encourage you to look into it a little more.

    You should read Death of Death by John Owen. Its AWESOME. At least read the introduction by Packer.
  13. Travis Fentiman

    Travis Fentiman Puritan Board Freshman

    Not a great argument. The argument assumes everything, both good and negative are equally parallel in scripture and God's nature and will. Unless one is a rapid Herman Hoeksema-ian, who is peculiar to hyper-calvinism, then the answer is No.

    Clearly in scripture God's desire to save men and to damn them are not exactly parallel in every respect. And God's threatening to punish them manifests that God is not, by his revealed will, desirous of damning them, Eze. 18:23,32.

    To answer the specific contextual/hermenuetical issue: the larger theology of scripture, specifically as it relates to the fairly obvious aspects of God's nature and will, informs our interpretation of such language of threatening. Thus no one but someone desperately trying to condemn the Sincere Free Offer has ever thought such a thing.

    Nor does the universal desire obscure the threatening attached to the gospel. Both are true in different senses.

    Here is John Trapp on this exact point:

    “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!”

    Matt 23:37

    "Verse 37. ‘How often would I, &c.’ How then could they perish whom God would have saved? It is answered, Voluntas Dei alia est praecepti, revelata antecedents, alia beneplaciti, arcana consequens [The will of God is diverse: (1) of precepts, of revealed antecedents, and of (2) good pleasure, secret consequents]. By the former [(1)] God willed their conversion, but not by the latter [(2)]. A king wills the welfare of all his subjects; yet he will not acquit those that are laid up for treason, murder, and the like foul crimes. A father is willing to give his son the inheritance; yet if he prove an unthrift, he will put him beside it, and take another. “How oft would I have gathered?” that is (say some), by the external ministry of the prophets, sent unto thee, Matthew 23:34-35. Not by internal regenerating operation of the Spirit."

    John Trapp on the Sincere Free Offer of the Gospel | Reformed Books Online
  14. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Please read on to verse 6, Travis. Collinges takes the view that Christ gave Himself a ransom for each and every man in a certain sense. You have denied universal redemption in a previous post.

    Once the word "all" is interpreted to mean each and every man, there is no ground for restricting the "all" of verse 6 to the elect alone. As David Silversides writes, "If 'all' were interpreted more broadly so as to include the non-elect, a concession would have been made to the unscriptural doctrine of universal atonement in view of the repetition of the word 'all' in verse 6." The Free offer, 86.

    As already noted from Rutherford, Sedgwick, and Brown, the Arminians build their case for universal redemption on this unscriptural doctrine of universal will. It is good that you deny universal redemption, but the weed needs to be removed by the roots.
  15. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    And what does he say? The qualifying statement is, "yet does not the Lord’s general love fall short of what he wills to them." There is no unfulfilled desire of doing good to them, whereas the poorly named "well meant offer" teaches God's desire falls short of saving those whom He would. Once again, one of Travis' sources testifies against his view.
  16. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Rutherford made the same ad absurdum argument: “Upon the same ground, it may well be said, God willeth the damnation of all and everyone of mankind.” Christ Dying, 444.

    Rutherford was appalled at the Arminian exegesis of Ezek. 18 and kindred texts because of their failure to interpret them covenantally and anthropopathically. He stated the doctrine of catholc goodwill was "repugnant to his will which is irresistible, and cannot miss its end. 2. To his immutability, which cannot be compelled to take a second port, whereas he cannot fail the first. 3. To his omnipotency, who cannot be resisted. 4. To his happiness, who cannot come short of what his soul desires. 5. To his wisdom, who cannot aim at an end, and desire it with his soul, and go about it by such means as he seeth shall be utterly uneffectual and never produce his end; and not use these means which he knoweth may, and infallibly doth, produce the same end in others." Ibid, 513.

    The view of John Calvin was the same: “it is deserving of notice, that if God does whatsoever he pleases, then it is not his pleasure to do that which is not done.”


    Paul Baynes: “God’s will were not omnipotent, should it not effect whatever it willeth."

    John Owen: “Now, surely, to desire what one is sure will never come to pass is not an act regulated by wisdom or counsel.” “Our God is in the heavens,” saith the psalmist: “he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased,” Ps. 115:3. Not only part, but all, whatsoever he pleased should come to pass, by any means.”

    David Clarkson: “they ascribe to him a will of universal salvation; when they discern it can be no other than a mere velleity, an incomplete intention, a weak, ineffectual desire, a faint and fruitless wishing of such general happiness, when he knows it will never be effected, and is resolved not to take the course to effect it. This is such a mercy, as jostles out and clashes with his other perfections, and is inconsistent with his knowledge, power, sincerity, wisdom, blessedness, and mercy itself in the true notion of it.”

    Stephen Charnock: “God’s will cannot be hindered of its effect, for then God would not be supremely blessed, but unhappy and miserable; all misery ariseth from a want of that which a nature would have and ought to have.”

    Herman Witsius: “it is unworthy of the divine majesty, to imagine, that there is an incomplete, unresolved, and ineffectual volition in God.”

    Christopher Ness: “He desires, and he doth it; no created being can interpose between the desire and the doing, to hinder their meeting together.”

    The doctrine of universal will and unfulfilled desire is consistently opposed and refuted by the Puritan and Reformed tradition.
  17. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    Yes, but it is indefinite and conditional. It is not addressed to them as reprobate but in common with mankind sinners, and the offer of salvation requires faith and repentance. God desires to save those who believe and repent.

    He does not love them as reprobate but He loves His creatures in general and grants them creature-benefits as an expression of His loving-kindness, as in Psalm 136, including the punishment of the wicked as a means of maintaining order and fulfilling His gracious purpose to His people. God loves judgment and delights in doing what is right.
  18. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    1) so since they never meet the condition, then he never desired to save them? And he never desired to save them because it was his will that they be damned?

    2) but he knows who is who (reprobate or elect). So is his goodness (earthly blessings) to the reprobate an act of love towards them? My line of thinking leads me to pharaoh. God gave him everything, but it was only to humiliate him. He raised him up y'all just so he would fall harder. Is that really a good towards pharaoh or was it something good from God that was meant to curse Pharaoh?

    And are we saying that "earthly fortune" is God loving someone? Because that's not always the case. I might be totally wrong, but it seems like the opposite is true, not all the time, but most times. It seems like God gives good things "earthly blessings" to people, but it is not for their good. And if that's true, that he gives good things "earthly fortunes" to people but not for their good, then it would be for their bad. Then whoever God is giving good things to them for their harm, is that really acting in love towards them?

    Sorry if I didn't communicate this very clearly. 1) I'm on my phone and it is HARD to type on my phone. 2) I'm not a writer. 3) I'm in over my head in this question, just trying to hang with you guys.

    Thanks for answering my question and trying to help Matthew. I really appreciate it.
  19. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Matthew, I see what you're saying. First, it should be noted that God's love is by definition goodness, but there are different levels of goodness God demonstrates toward His creation. This means that God prioritises the well-being of one creature over another. The glorification of God's righteousness requires that some people be damned, and this is done by God in view of the well-being of the elect. Thus, although God would rather give than take, He must strip the reprobate of His gifts at some point. God truly delights in giving, whether it is for the elect or the reprobate, whether it is for eternal or temporal well-being of the creature.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  20. Loopie

    Loopie Puritan Board Freshman

    Psalm 92:5-9 (NASB)
    5 How great are Your works, O LORD! Your thoughts are very deep.
    6 A senseless man has no knowledge, Nor does a stupid man understand this:
    7 That when the wicked sprouted up like grass And all who did iniquity flourished, It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.
    8 But You, O LORD, are on high forever.
    9 For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD, For, behold, Your enemies will perish; All who do iniquity will be scattered.

    Perhaps this passage can shed some light on the fact that God sends earthly 'blessings' to the wicked, but for the ultimate purpose that they might be destroyed forevermore. This does not seem to suggest that God 'loves' the reprobate. Of course, it is also true that EVERYONE deserves immediate destruction. The fact that God does not immediately destroy everyone is a testimony to his long-suffering and patience. Again, there are different degrees or kinds of love. God has a general love for all of mankind, but a salvific love only for the Elect. We must not make the mistake of suggesting that God can only have one type of love and that it has to be shown equally to everyone.
  21. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    I love what you said. I do have one question though. What makes you think immediate?

    And also thank you Samuel for giving your answer. I really appreciate it!
  22. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    One of the things that needs to be protected in this discussion is that our knowledge of God is by condescension. I'm always wary of any doctrine built on viewing something in God's will or desire precisely as we would understand it. I also find it puzzling to speak of God's judgment against sin as something He does grudgingly. It's spoken of as something that He must do but is gritting His teeth to do it. His real desire is to save souls and doesn't desire to punish sin so He'll be theoretically miserable forever over the punishment of the wicked. What, precisely, is there, outside of Himself that is forcing Him to punish the wicked eternally for their sin? How can it be said that He does not desire to do something He accomplishes?

    The wrath of God against sin is seen as some sort of third-party compulsion. We may understand that a human judge may, out of a duty to justice, be forced to render a sentence upon someone he does not desire to punish but he is bound to a law higher than himself. The same cannot be said of God. How can God be said to not desire something that He does given that there is nothing outside of Himself that can cause Him to accomplish some purpose that is not His own?
  23. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    rightly so!
    Good point.

    Good questions.

    What does that mean?

    I like your questions.

    I am curious as to how you would answer my question "Does God love the reprobate?"

    I have heard this said before by someone. Their example was: "I love my wife, friends, and dog. I love them all differently, but that does not mean that I dont love them all. Same with God. He loves his elect (wife) much more than he loves the reprobate (dog)."

    But what I think isn't lining up with that is the fact that my wife, friend, and dog are not my enemies. I genuinely want them to be well off. Some more well off than others, but nevertheless, well off. I mean no harm to either of them. But that is not the case with God, well as far as I see Romans 9 or Psalm 92 are concerned, he prepared them for destruction, he let them flourish so that they could be destroyed. I do not have that end in mind at all with my wife, friend, or dog.
  24. MW

    MW Puritanboard Amanuensis

    To follow up on Rich's comments, the method of interpretation is shown to be faulty by the fact it cannot be consistently followed through. If it were followed through one would have to impute to God limited knowledge and ability, change of mind, with continual sorrow and vexation of spirit, among other things. It is the language of moral persuasion, in which God reasons with men as if on an equality with them in order to show them what is for their own good. It cannot be taken in an absolute sense without robbing God of His absolute dominion over men.

    The very word "pleasure" which is used in Ezek. 18, 33, is used in Ps. 135, and Isa. 46:10, where God Himself says that He will do all His pleasure, including executing judgment on the wicked. Ezekiel cannot be understood of an absolute displeasure in the death of the wicked without directly contradicting this clear testimony of Scripture.
  25. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Wow, I just realized that by saying "God would rather give than take," I'm suggesting that God desires something that won't and can't be, that God would rather see a world where His righteousness would be glorified without suffering. The reason why I think this way is because of God's own expressions of displeasure to suffering itself in Scripture. Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... I'm lost.
  26. Semper Fidelis

    Semper Fidelis 2 Timothy 2:24-25 Staff Member

    What I mean to say is that people say that God will punish sinners but He takes no pleasure in that punishment. It is presented as if God is under some sort of external compulsion to do so. There's some sort of "law of the universe" that God has to punish sin so He does it, but grudgingly.

    It implies a denial of the aseity of God. Arminianism and Molinism posit these ideas of God somehow doing things on the basis of forces outside of Himself. He factors in external criteria and then acts in accordance with the data. To speak about God somehow executing wrath for sinners, but not because He desires to, is to create a situation where some third-party or other condition outside of God is forcing Him to do so. Some will say it in the sense that, because God is just, He is forced to do this as if the idea of "Justice" is an external factor that God is forced to live up to. He must be Just but He doesn't take any delight in doing so.

    In other words, none of this has to do with hyper-Calvinism but to speak this way calls into question the aseity of God.
  27. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Can you?
  28. Matthew1344

    Matthew1344 Puritan Board Freshman

    Rich, what would you say to this...
  29. InSlaveryToChrist

    InSlaveryToChrist Puritan Board Junior

    Now I see where I went wrong. I was so focused on the wording "suffering itself," that I ended up understanding it so that God desires a world where there is no suffering at all, when what it was meant to convey was that God does not desire meaningless suffering. Better use that term from now on. Language can be tricky sometimes.

    I recant of this "God would rather give than take" nonsense.
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