In this post I’ll try to point out very briefly, from scripture that the Reformed or “Calvinistic” exegesis of the Bible is the true exegesis of scripture because the opposite is impossible. I believe Arminianism, or free will works religion leads to self-contradiction. As Van Til would say, “we reason from the impossibility of the contrary.” What seem to be universalisms to the Arminian become clear when we seek to explain them in the context using the historical, grammatical or literal meaning. I’ve selected a few passages as representative examples.
As you read the scriptures presented and the few comments I’ve added please keep the words of R. L. Dabney in mind.
A truth is not necessary, because we negatively are not able to conceive the actual existence of the opposite thereof; but a truth is necessary when we positively are able to apprehend that the negation thereof includes an inevitable contradiction. It is not that we cannot see how the opposite comes to be true, but it is that we are able to see that that the opposite cannot possibly be true. (Systematic Theology, sect. 1, chap. 6, lect. 8).
DOES THE BIBLE TEACH ARMINIAN UNIVERSALISMS?:
That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (Joh 1:9)
The Arminian free will tradition believes this light is unto salvation, a reference to previent grace or preparatory grace but the passage, when examined, doesn’t allow it. The context is found in the verses immediately following, v.12 “as many received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God…” v.13 “Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.” You must be born again and that is not within the power of fallen man for the scriptures are clear, “but of God.”
The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. (Joh 1:29)
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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. (Joh 3:16-17)
And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world. (Joh 4:42)
The word “world” in this context cannot be understood as referring to salvation for the whole world for orthodox Christianity denies universalism. Using scripture we can come to understand the text the way it was meant to be interpreted.
And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. (Luk 2:1)
In Luke 2 we find the word “world” being used to identify a specific geographic location, that being, the Roman Empire. It is not used in a universal sense at all but a very limited sense. If we use the Arminian or free will tradition and apply it to this passage we would have to assume China was taxed, Japan, Russia, the whole world in the universal sense of the word. That simply is not true due to the context. The same can be said for the passages in John. Therefore, the universal passages often cited in support of the universal nature of Christ’s sin offering (sometimes free will of man) cannot be used to teach these Arminian notions. In fact John limiteds the sin offering of Christ to those “that believe.” As I have demonstrated already and will continue to demonstrate, God is the one who gives faith, so the limiter is Christ. Consistent with what I’ve been saying throughout these posts we need a spiritual change before we can believe. Before John 3:16 we read;
Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. (Joh 3:5-6)
For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. (2Co 5:14-15)
Let’s examine the text;
v.1 “For we know…”
v.2 “For in this we groan…”
v.3 “…we shall not be found naked.”
v.4 “For we that in this tabernacle do groan…”
2 Corinthians is addressed to believers who “know” and “groan” over their sin, and know that because of Christ “we shall not be found naked.” When we set aside tradition and read 2 Cor. 5 again we see that it is addressed to believers, Christ’s love is directed to “us” at the beginning of the verse, and the use of “all” in proper context should be understood as referring to “all” of Christ’s people. In verses 18-19 we see that “all” is in direct relationship to the reconciling work of Jesus Christ.
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. (1Ti 2:4-6)
The context is given before we arrive at v.4. Paul instructs believers to pray for all kinds of people, “kings, and for all that are in authority…” If God wills all men to be saved all men will be saved, I have demonstrated above that Christ’s death is effectual.
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. (Heb 2:9)
The Arminian free will tradition views this passage as meaning Christ somehow “tasted death” for every single person who ever lived making salvation a hypothetical possibility. This notion can’t be supported by the biblical text. It is said that Christ was the captain of their salvation. This passage is directed to the “many sons” and not all, its the church body collectively, but not every single person who ever lived.
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2Pe 3:9)
Does this verse teach that God is waiting for “all” as in every single person who ever lived, even if they had never heard the Gospel, to “come to repentance?” I don’t believe it does. Peter addresses this Epistle to the “beloved” to “stir up” their minds to remember the things he has preached to them. In verse 8 he tells the church that, “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years” and continues in verse 9 reminding the church to be patient. The use of “us-ward” is in reference to the “promise” and only believers have the promise of salvation. Christ is not willing that any of His people will perish and His people will come to repentance.
My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. (1Jn 2:1-2)
If, according to Arminian tradition, this verse is to be taken in a universal sense than all people, including unbelievers, will receive salvation because propitiated sins cannot be punished. For a definition of the world propitiation I have quoted Webster’s Dictionary of 1828, “The act of appeasing wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person; the act of making propitious.” Christ appeased the wrath of God the Father. If the work of Christ is said to be for “every single person who ever lived” than you have a problem, their sins are forgiven on the basis of Christ’s work at Calvary and cannot be punished. The free will Arminian notion if consistent, thank God it is not, means sinners for whom Christ died will be punished…and if consistent this idea will lead to universalism.
Yours in the Lord,