How different is the God of the Bible from the God of modern Christendom! The conception of Deity which prevails most widely today, even among those who profess to give heed to the Scriptures, is a miserable caricature, a blasphemous travesty of the Truth. The God of the twentieth century is a helpless, effeminate being who commands the respect of no really thoughtful man. The God of the popular mind is the creation of a maudlin sentimentality. The God of many a present-day pulpit is an object of pity rather than of awe-inspiring reverence. To say that God the Father has purposed the salvation of all mankind, that God the Son died with the express intention of saving the whole human race, and that God the Holy Spirit is now seeking to win the world to Christ; when, as a matter of common observation, it is apparent that the great majority of our fellow-men are dying in sin, and passing into a hopeless eternity: is to say that God the Father is disappointed, that God the Son is dissatisfied, and that God the Holy Spirit is defeated. We have stated the issue baldly, but there is no escaping the conclusion. To argue that God is “trying His best” to save all mankind, but that the majority of men will not let Him save them, is to insist that the will of the Creator is impotent, and that the will of the creature is omnipotent.
A. W. Pink (1886–1952)
Hello Mr. Coleman,
I believe Mr. Pink’s assessment is in error. The doctrine of limited atonement is likewise a violation of scripture (the second greatest commandment) as it is a logical progression of the error of Unconditional Election. As I’ve previously stated the second greatest commandment is a commandment to offer mercy to the one who needs mercy when it is within our power to do so. It is the offer of mercy, not the acceptance of mercy which fulfills this commandment. If God does not offer mercy to those in need, He is acting contrary to His revealed moral law, which is sin. And God does not sin. He is not a hypocrite. And He does fulfill that very same law He commanded us to fulfill. He offers mercy to those in need of His mercy and He commands us to do likewise.
This is shown to us in the parable of the Good Samaritan – specifically by the purposely limited information provided by Jesus in this parable. First, the injured man was in need of mercy. Second, it was within the Samaritan’s power to offer mercy. That is all the information purposely provided by Jesus as conditions for which mercy is to be offered. This was in answer to the lawyer’s question of ‘who is my neighbor’ in an attempt to justify his concept of selective mercy. Jesus’ answer through the parable was the one who offered mercy was a neighbor to the one who needed mercy. He then told the lawyer to ‘go and do likewise’.
To say that this parable was intended only for that specific time, situation and/or covenant or people, and not for universal application is in error as this reasoning would then have to be applied to the rest of Jesus’ parables. To say that God’s sovereignty allows Him to act contrary to His revealed moral law is a violation of scripture. His moral law is part of His nature. He cannot deny Himself. To say this commandment is not relevant to the relationship of God and man (man and God are not neighbors because they are not equals) is also in error in that God Himself called Abraham and Moses friends, and David ‘a man after God’s own heart’. If God can call a man friend, is this not an even closer relationship than that of neighbor? And isn’t that one of the reasons God created man, to have a relationship with Him? No, God commands us to be like Him, in holiness and in love (mercy).
But regarding limited atonement, it is ironic that this doctrine of man intended to exalt the sovereignty of God actually diminishes His capabilities. It is agreed by most of the leading proponents of this doctrine that scripture states God desires all men to be saved. And it is agreed that scripture states most men will not be saved. This is a problem for Calvinists (or those who hold to the same doctrines). This is in conflict with their concept of God’s sovereignty. So they say ‘well God must have two natures’ thinking this will solve the problem. One nature upholding Unconditional Election and Limited Atonement and thus refusing the offer of mercy to some of those in need, and the other nature desiring all men to receive mercy. They assert this not even realizing the former defeats the latter. And thus in this doctrine of men God is not capable of fulfilling His desire.
But notice that as soon as free will (as in the ability of men to trust God for salvation resulting in regeneration) is introduced, the whole problem – and the above doctrines required to support man’s error, go away. If God’s will is to OFFER all men mercy – then He has fulfilled His will, both to uphold His sovereignty, righteousness and justice, and His desire for all men to be saved. He allows men the free will to receive or reject that offer of mercy. That which God allows does not diminish His sovereignty.
Thank you for your comments.
Please address the issue of those people that live and die without ever hearing the gospel of the Lord Jesus. It seems to me that they die in their sin.
In your opinon, is God unjust by not sending them a gospel preacher or is He unable to arrange the circumstances to have the gospel declared unto them?
Why put the blame on God? Why not put the blame on man? He’s the one who rejected God. He’s the one who is responsible. What if a man’s sin, even after being redeemed, causes other men to go into eternity without hearing the Gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit? In other words, what if our failure to fully surrender to the Holy Spirit’s control and power is the cause of the world not receiving the Gospel. This is the thought that an idolatrous church does not want to consider. It’s easier to either leave it unanswered or perhaps address it with a doctrine which solves the problem without blaming the church (God chose to leave them lost).