Aug 2, 2010

Upon whom does the unmerited favor of God terminate? - Gery Schmidt

"We move on to consider another aspect of grace, namely, its objects. Upon whom does the unmerited favor of God terminate? Does every single human being represent an object of God's grace? The Scriptures answer this question negatively. God's word clearly delineates that none but the elect are the objects of the grace of God. In Matt. 1:21 the purpose of the incarnation was to "save his people from their sins." In John 10:10 the Lord declares that he "lays down his life for the sheep," and not for the goats. In John 17:9 the Lord prays not for everyone in the world, but only for those who had been given to him. These are but three examples of many which clearly demonstrate that the grace of God is restricted to the elect. Were it true that every human being was the object of divine grace, such distinctions as "his people," sheep," and "those whom you have given me" would be pointless. The distinction "his people" implies there are such who are not Christ's sheep (Mt. 25:32,33; John 10:26). Such who are "given to Christ" implies there are those who are not given to Christ.

And the argument based on such words as "all" and "world" do not make every soul the object of divine grace. Does the "whole world" of 1 John 5:19 include the apostle John and all other Christians? Does the "world" of John 12:19 include the Pharisees who used the term? Does the term "all" in Luke 21:17 have reference to fellow Christians? The answer to each of these questions is an obvious no. Why then do professing Christians force an unwarranted universal concept upon the words "world" and "all" in such texts as John 3:16, 1 John 2:2, and 2 Cor. 5:15? The very idea that these texts prove every human being is the object of God's favor is contradicted throughout the Scriptures (in addition to those listed above) by such limiting and qualifying terms as "many," "the children of God,' and "the elect" (see Mk. 10:45; John 11:52; Rom. 8:33).

Further, contextual considerations show that the "world" referred to in John 3:16 and 1 John 2:2 designates God's non-Jewish elect scattered throughout the nations (Rev. 5:9), while the "all" of 2 Cor. 5:15 refers to the all who live no longer for themselves, but for Christ. And these can only be the elect. Indeed, the very doctrine of election, which is grounded in, and proceeds from God's grace, demonstrates that grace knows no other objects but the elect. This very distinctive presupposes the existence of such who are non-elect. And certainly, reprobation is not a matter of grace but justice, and hence, the reprobate cannot be the objects of grace. And such a fact will figure prominently when we come to consider the aim of gospel preaching." - Gery Schmidt

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