Does God love his enemies? Please help?

Discussion in 'The Gospels & Acts' started by CarsonLAllen, Jan 3, 2009.

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  1. CarsonLAllen

    CarsonLAllen Puritan Board Freshman

    Can someone pleas help me with this passage? I have a brother who believes that God does not love the reprobate in any way at all. I keep quoting this passage from scripture to him

    43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
    44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
    45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
    46 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

    What does this passage mean? Is is saying love your enemies, because God loves his? Does God love all his enemies? Or could it be said “Love your enemies, because God loved us while we were his enemy?
     
  2. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Carson, one thing to keep in mind is that we do not possess God's omniscience. God knows the eternal reprobate and whatever common grace benefits them (rain, crops, shelter etc.) in this life will mock them in the eternity to come. Our Lord Jesus Christ blessed those who hated Him, not because He loved their sin, but because it could not be said of Him that gift of grace was not truly free.
     
  3. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    I absolutely believe that God loves all people and wants all to be saved, but He has much greater priorities in showing both His mercy and justice, so many will still perish, even if they are loved. And even then, it must be remembered that God also hates the wicked for their wickedness; both His love and hate are true. It's a very deep paradox, much like how God is both merciful and just at the same time. John Piper has a great article on this, although the passage you cite is not a part of it.

    Are There Two Wills in God?
     
  4. Zeno333

    Zeno333 Puritan Board Freshman

    There are many "common Graces" that come from God that benefit all on Earth. The beauty of nature etc.
    there is also the benefits that the "Church" gives to those that are not in the church itself....(the world would be much more at war than it is now if not for the Church etc...there are bountiful benefits that trickle down from the Church to the heathen world around us).
     
  5. Anton Bruckner

    Anton Bruckner Puritan Board Professor

    love many times in the Bible is used interchangeably with forbearance and mercy. God forbears with His enemies and is merciful towards them in lieu of them repenting. But this is not to be mistaken as God being genuinely disposed towards his enemy in a manner as He is disposed towards His Son Jesus and His children.

    When we are commanded to love our enemy it must be taken within the context of the Old Testament Law as found in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. In the law, God says, "If you see your enemy's ox going astray, return it to him, or if you see your enemy's ox struggling under his burden you shall help him". The Bible does not contradict itself. David manifest how this ought to be fulfilled by only cutting off a piece of Saul's cloak and not killing him.

    Loving our enemy simply means being lawful towards them, nothing else. And being lawful at times means taking them to court if they act unlawfully towards you. What it does prohibit is taking up the sword to implement justice upon them. God specifically gave the civil magistrate the monopoly of the sword.
     
  6. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    I don't think it can be said that God loves His enemies in the same way that He loves His people. Niether do I think it can be said that God necessarily loves His enemies in any other way past a mere "common grace". As was said above, the common niceties He allows His enemies now will mock them later and bear witness against them and their rebellion. I can hardly surmise it is love that causes God to allow His enemies to heap damnation on their own heads.
     
  7. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I don't think God wants all people to be saved. Is it fair to say that in your signature, you acknowledge that the reason you believe in God is because He wanted you to believe in Him? If He wanted all others to believe in Him, as He wants you to, would they not all be saved?
     
  8. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    You have a very good question. The article I gave a link to directly answers it.
    As I said, God wants all to be saved but has a greater desire to show both His mercy and justice, thus only some are chosen to be saved while others are chosen to be vessels of wrath.

    If I want to eat cake but decide to eat vegetables, my desire to eat cake was still a reality.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2009
  9. CarsonLAllen

    CarsonLAllen Puritan Board Freshman

    Athornquits

    I will check out the Piper article a.s.a.p., thank you for pointing out that it is a deep paradox. However, when I point this out to my friend, he say’s that this verse has nothing to do with salvation, and it does not prove that he loves all of his enemies only some. In other words, Does God Love Satan?


    [Anton Bruckner/B]


    Another brother pointed out the same thing to me. After reading Romans 9, that forbearance would be a better term then common grace.


    Zenas

    I have always said that God loves his enemies, but of course he does not love them in the same way he loves the elect. In other words, he dos not love them the same way a man loves his bride. He loves them in a different way. Whenever I point that out to my brother, he replies with “ then you would have to disagree with “Jacob I have loved Esau I have hated”. He keeps telling me that if God loves his enemies differently than the way he loves his bride, then I guess he loved Esau.

    Can you help me with that?
     
  10. timmopussycat

    timmopussycat Puritan Board Junior


    I would want to know a bit more about the situation before replying. What is the context of the discussion i.e., how does your brother's theological axiom quoted above influence his life?
     
  11. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    The passage does command us to love our enemies, and it points to God's common grace as an example...but it stops short of saying that we love our enemies because God loves His.

    In a sense God's enemies and ours are different in that He knows who is reprobate and who is elect, while we don't.
    If we consider the Ordo Salutis we can see that God's love and election of us happens before He regenerates us. So those who we see as enemies of the Church (like the apostle Paul) are loved by God if they are the elect.

    -----Added 1/3/2009 at 09:45:22 EST-----

    Ps 5:5 - The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.

    Notice that what He hates are the workers (the people), not merely their actions.
     
  12. Hippo

    Hippo Puritan Board Junior

    I think that this is a misuse of the passage, the unconditional command to love all men does not reflect God's view for a whole host of reasons. A point is often made on this board that God does not have emotions and feelings in the same way that we do, he is creator and we are creature.

    I think that your friend is right, if God loved the reprobate they would not be reprobate.

    This argument often gets lost in a battle of definitions. I would agree with the previous post that:

    It is a perfectly respectable position to hold as long as it is rooted in respect for God's sovereignty rather than as a way to avoid obeying the commandment that we should love our enemies.
     
  13. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    If God loves all people and desires all people to be saved, what does God's love and desire have to do with salvation?
     
  14. Zenas

    Zenas Snow Miser

    You could call common grace a kind of love, I guess, but I don't tend to agree with the notion that God loves His enemies. At the absolute most, it seems to me, He tolerates them and they have a purpose in His overall plan. Case in point: the nations surrounding Israel. God loved Israel, but used the heathens around them to discipline them and brought them to destruction when the time was right.

    What is seen as common grace appears to simply be God giving the rebellious enough rope to hang themselves. The house, food, and all the care they receive now will bear witness against their God-hating and rebellion in the future and ultimately condemn them. I wouldn't call that "love", but I guess some might.
     
  15. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    It could even be that the passage points to God's common grace in order to remind us that there's no way of us knowing who God loves and who He doesn't.

    If only the elect shared in the common graces of this world, then we would be able to tell the elect from the reprobate. As it is God allows the common graces and afflictions to come upon both the elect and the reprobate...possibly to keep us from trying to figure out who is elect and who is reprobate. After all, that's part of His secret will.
     
  16. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    Well, Piper begins by saying that it is possible that what is spoken of in some Arminian-favored verses could mean that God's will that all people be saved is limited to people whom He has chosen. This is what I believe and Piper has not convinced me otherwise. But I allow that I may someday be learned otherwise:

    I don't think this statement proves this double will idea. I agree with what is said, but I think that God chooses to use Christ's death as payment only for those whom He has chosen:
    This is where I may be way off, but I do think that it was the will of God that these people disobey and deliver Jesus up to be crucified. Wasn't that what HAD to happen?? Wasn't that part of the beauty of the sacrifice, that God willingly offered His Son as payment for our sin?
    I agree that God's standards are that all should believe and be obedient to Him, but I don't think that we can say that this means that "God loves all people and wants all to be saved."
    I think sincere compassion can be held by a "noble and great heart (even a divine heart," but that heart still wants the criminal to pay.
    I also think Piper's conclusion goes back to his start with the verses that suggest that God wills for all men to be saved. I disagree with Piper's understanding of "all."
    I have not studied this as much as many others have (nor as much as Piper has) but I feel like his article is more to placate Arminians than it is to really explain these "two wills of God."
    I guess I don't exactly understand the paradox and so maybe I just think there isn't really one. God pities even the sinner (obviously, because He pitied me and gave me faith) but that pity does not mean that He wants all sinners to be saved.

    Please, please consider this an humble effort at discussion, and by no means an attack or an arrogance. I write what I believe in hopes to be challenged if I believe falsely.
     
  17. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    God loves all men and wants every single human being ever conceived to be saved? That is how I read what you say. Explain please, and remember that this is a confessional board.
     
  18. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    While the distinction between God's preceptive and decretive will is absolutely important, Piper misapplies it.

    Whenever we speak about what God commands, or what He desires intrinsically, we always refer to general situations. For example, we may say that God commands us not to murder, but He doesn't desire that no one actually murder in any situation; otherwise, no one would actually murder in any situation, and the cross would never have occurred. What we don't see is that God says, "I want nobody on Earth at any point to murder." All He says is, "Thou shalt not murder." These are huge differences. It is the difference between "Repent and believe" and "I want everyone to be saved." All other circumstances of providence notwithstanding, God prefers that people not murder; likewise, other circumstances notwithstanding, God prefers that people repent. Non-murder is intrinsically superior to murder, and repentance is intrinsically superior to non-repentance. But it does not follow that God would actually desire no murders to occur or that all people repent.

    The nature of the statement, that God wants everyone to be saved, is necessarily decretive, and not preceptive. It's almost as if Piper's cheating when he tries to resolve the paradox by just placing different statements in different categories almost arbitrarily and dusting off his hands. The statement is regarding what God desires that the entire mass of humanity actually should do in the world, not a statement regarding what He would prefer to occur for a single human in a situation without other circumstances. The statement by its own nature cannot be part of God's preceptive will.

    Lastly, I don't think it's possible that God could actually desire it and not have it come to fruition. God does all that He pleases (Job 23:13). It has been said that God simply values glorifying Himself over the desire to save everyone, but it doesn't make sense for this extra desire to exist apart from God's desire to glorify Himself. The reason God ought to glorify Himself is because He is infinitely possessing of every virtuous characteristic and therefore any attempt to glorify Himself naturally results for good. Therefore, any purpose which goes contrary to God-glorification is necessarily idolatrous and naturally results in evil (or something otherwise less than good). As a result, to say that God would have some desires contrary to His glorification in Himself is to say that He would have some idolatrous desires in Himself, which is of course ridiculous.

    Conclusion: God cannot desire that all men be saved without universalism.
     
  19. AThornquist

    AThornquist Puritan Board Doctor

    Todd, I concur with Piper's article. Yes, I believe God loves people in a sense (there has already been talk of common grace) and does not find pleasure in the death of the wicked. I don't have time to unpack all of what I believe but like I said, Piper's article sums up what I believe about the two wills of God. That is all I am saying :)
     
  20. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    The two wills of God is an interesting topic. Rev. Winzer helped me in gaining a better understanding of the topic. So this is from what I learned from him (though since it's been a while i'm not directly quoting him)...

    There are not two wills in God, but the term will is taken in different senses.

    In one sense God's will is moral.
    In the other sense God's will is decretive.

    His secret will, that which is decretive, is what WILL be done.

    His revealed will, that which is moral, is what SHOULD be done.
     
  21. CarsonLAllen

    CarsonLAllen Puritan Board Freshman

    It's still Saturday for another hour hear on the west coast, so I am not posting on the Lord's day.

    My friends name is Daniele, he is reformed and goes to a church that just adopted the three form of unity. He is not just trying to come up with a reason to not love repobates. He is just trying to help me think through these things. He is actually comming over tomorrow after church. We will read through these post's together, and have a great theological discusion. We will not post of course, I will save that for Monday.

    I would like to thank everyone who took the time to read and coment on this post. This board has helped me grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord
     
  22. PresbyDane

    PresbyDane Puritanboard Doctor

    In my personal opinion us reformed sometimes jump to lightly over some passages.
    I completly agree with you, that if God wanted it any other way, it would be that way in an instand.
    That being said, there are passages to the effect that God wants no sinners death 2pet 3,9, and unless we want to call God confused or a liar we must admit that there are things here we do not have a mind that can comprehend.
     
  23. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    But this I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matt 5:44, 45) Cf. also Luke 6:35, 36.​

    There are different kinds of love; as has been mentioned, forbearance and kindness in lieu of vengeance is a form of love. And this Christ manifested. The elect responded to it with love, the reprobate with derision.

    Our love in Christ's name will likewise draw the elect but not savingly touch the hearts of the reprobate.

    Would not providence be an exactly equivalent term for common grace as we are using it here?

    Remember, the Lord also said,

    But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay them before me. Luke 19:27​

    He "commandeth all men everywhere to repent" (Acts 17:30 [emphasis mine -SMR]), knowing that many will not heed Him; their wickedness He uses to further His own ends of good for His elect and the glory of His name. He is not the author of it, but uses it for good.

    If He "will have all men to be saved" (1 Tim 2:4) as the Arminians use this verse, then the implication is, He cannot effect His will, as not all are saved. It refers back to verse 1, where Paul is talking of all classes of men, even the kings and magistrates who oftentimes are found persecuting the church. Does anyone think Paul is exhorting intercession for all men, that is, each and every individual alive on the planet? Of course we know that God "worketh all things after the counsel of his own will" (Eph 1:11), and what He wills to happen will happen, and whom He wills to be saved will be saved.

    These are days of mercy; the floodgates of Heaven are opened, the call has gone out through the earth, "Let him that is athirst, come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely....Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest....him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (Rev 22:17; Matt 11:28; John 6:37).

    But the day is approaching when the door will be shut, and to those who cry for mercy then, He will say, "I know you not." (Matt 25:12)

    Until then we are to show mercy, forbearance, kindness – even as Christ did when He walked among us – to our enemies. But the secret things of God's decree, who are His enemies for a while, and then are won over to love Him, and those who are not to be won over but implacably hate the light (John 3:19, 20) – these things we do not know, and so we love as an "enemy" may be an elect to be won over.

    Those not written in the Lamb's Book of Life from before the creation of the world, these are not the recipients of His love, save for that forbearing and kindness shown to all men.

    Carson, I think your friend is right.

    P.S. In 2 Peter 3:9, when the apostle says, "He is longsuffering to us-ward*, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" [emphasis mine], please note to whom is he talking. To whom is he referring when he says, "us-ward", but those addressed in the letter: 1:1 "to them that have obtained like precious faith with us", that is, the elect scattered strangers also written to in his first epistle. God is not slack concerning His promise, but is waiting till the very last elect soul comes to repentance. And then the day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night and our redemption will have finally arrived. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

    * [The modern versions have "toward you", but the meaning is the same.]
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2009
  24. discipulo

    discipulo Puritan Board Junior

    In the link below there is a number of very interesting

    Quotes on God's Hatred of the Reprobate

    from Calvin, Knox, Murray, Gillespie, Owen, Zanchius, Perkins, Poole, Turretin…

    really worth reading
     
  25. moral necessity

    moral necessity Puritan Board Junior

    What about Christ's desire to "have this cup pass from him", and yet "not my will but yours be done". Did Christ therefore have idolotrous desires within himself, and, if so, then how was he a pure sacrifice? Could not God therefore truly desire that all be saved, and yet desire a higher good at the same time? It's not so much two paths going opposite directions, but rather two paths branching off as they both go foreward. God could glorify himself either way, by either saving all or by saving a few. Yet, the second option displays other qualities about him that the first would not, namely his justice and holiness. And so, therefore, the second is chosen. And, in the garden, Christ was not desiring to stop the plan of redemption, but to just consider another way of going about it besides drinking of that cup. And yet, the other option was chosen. Just some thoughts regarding this approach.

    Blessings!
     
  26. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Well, first off, you can surely agree with me that God would have no idolatrous desires within Himself, so the next step is identifying what exactly is idolatrous, applying the concept to specific examples.

    With Jesus' desiring that the cup pass from Him if it be the Father's will, you have to keep in mind that Jesus was also fully human, and that He was merely (and sinlessly) making a request to God, just as we might do. It is possible for our wills to be different from God's (i.e. decretively, how we think providence should go about), but it does not make us idolatrous, since we are necessarily ignorant of what future providence will entail and therefore can't be charged with rebellion or idolatry. As long as we are not rebelling against God's revealed will, we are not being idolatrous. Requesting that providence go about a certain way is allowed in this framework.

    However, if God Himself were to actually desire something (in terms of providence) contrary to His actual decretive will, it would be not only idolatrous but plain contradictory, as He would be decretively willing what He has not decretively willed. From this, we can see that the question must be resolved by resorting to the necessary mystery of the hypostatic union. Jesus' human nature was clearly shining forth here.

    Great question!


    Regarding what you said about the somewhat conflicting desires:

    Please realize that this universe is absolutely perfect in terms of how maximally it glorifies God. No other course of providence for this universe would glorify God as much as this one does. Thus, for God to prefer anything less than this one, anything less at all -- even if it's still highly glorifying of Him -- is not maximally God-glorifying, and consequently it would necessarily be contrary to God, who is infinitely (i.e. maximally) perfect.

    I'm not saying it would be terribly evil of God to desire something less than maximal self-glorification (though it would admittedly be somewhat evil), and thus your analogy of the two lines both going forward still is maintained to a degree. However, it would still be entirely contradictory of God to desire anything less than His maximal glorification in any way at all. Complete self-glorification must be the entire basis for His actions, and anything less necessarily cannot be the basis at all. He can not possibly have any desires contrary to maximal self-glorification; and therefore inasmuch as universalism is contrary to maximal self-glorification, He cannot desire it. It is a logical impossibility.
     
  27. Jerusalem Blade

    Jerusalem Blade Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    We cannot posit "two wills" or "two desires" in God which conflict with one another, especially not from Jesus' prayer that the cup be taken from Him, as Christ – in His office as Mediator – had both a human and a divine nature. Note that He prefaced His request to the Father, "If it be possible", and followed it with, "nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt", subordinating His human will to the divine. Two wills in Christ, one pertaining to His human nature and one to His divine, does not equate to two wills in God. In the God-Man, yes, there are two. But this is a different matter entirely.

    It was necessary that, as representative man, our King and Federal Head, in the days of His flesh He "offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears" and "learned he obedience by the things which he suffered" (Heb 5:7, 8). His human nature was perfectly submitted to God, even though it shrank from the horror of bearing our curse, with the wrath and turning away of the Father's love. Despite the agony of enduring our eternal deaths He obeyed, earning for us God's love.
     
  28. Confessor

    Confessor Puritan Board Senior

    Just to let it be known, I was not advocating that God actually has two competing or conflicting wills, but rather that we have two perspectives to understand His will, and that it is possible to say that God wills something in two different ways.

    For example:
    "God wills that murder would never happen, other circumstances notwithstanding." -- preceptive view
    "God wills that murder would happen in specific times with specific circumstances, such as Jesus' crucifixion." -- decretive view

    The preceptive will of God is more a general description about how God feels about certain actions intrinsically or just as they are, and we understand this from what is revealed. The decretive will of God is more a specific description about how God wants providence to go, and we understand this from...providence. The former is kind of how God feels about something "in a vacuum," while the latter is how He feels about it in its specific application.

    I think Beza wrote something very edifying on this.
     
  29. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    Note (as I now see Steve R. has already said) 2 Peter 3:9 does not say that God wishes no sinners to die the death. In context if read carefully, it becomes clear that Peter is speaking there about the death of any elect.

    -----Added 1/5/2009 at 09:40:28 EST-----

    And the concept of common grace as expressing some sort of "love" is highly debatable. I for one do not think what is commonly called common grace is not an expression of love for those reprobates who gain from this "common grace" in any way at all.

    When Scripture says that God does not find pleasure in the death of the wicked, it doesn't mean he doesn't desire their death. It is a statement of God being ruled by some out-of-control passion - i.e. that he isn't gleefully celebrating their death in some demonic fashion. Rather, he expresses his wrath upon them and is fully satisfied in their death. Many argue that when God says he takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, he means that he reluctantly hands them over to death... which I think could not be farther from the truth, if we actually look at the whole of what Scripture says on the matter.

    I wasn't reacting to Piper's article, which I've not read, but to your words, wherein you without qualification said "God loves all men and wants them all to come to faith". As said, I think the statement is wrong on both counts, because there is no Scriptural support (or confessional support) for either position.
     
  30. JM

    JM Puritan Board Professor

    By John Pedersen

    from The Trinity Review, July 1997
    ___________________________________________________________

    Billy: "Pastor, does God love everybody?"

    Pastor: "Yes, Billy" (smiles, pats him on the head).

    Billy: "How come it says in Romans 9 that he hated Esau?"

    Pastor: "Been reading your Bible, huh, Billy?" (still smiles). "Well, the Bible also says that God hates, but that only is talking about God’s secret decree, and as far as we are concerned, he loves everybody."

    Billy: "Pastor?"

    Pastor: "Yes, Billy."

    Billy: "If God tells us about his secret decree, is it still a secret?"

    Pastor: "Er, well, I guess . . . not, Billy, but I meant that we should realize that there is a way the Bible talks about God’s love for everybody, and that’s what we should think about, not the one or two places where it says God hates."

    Billy: "Oh. How is it that God loves everybody?"

    Pastor: "Well, he gives everybody rain and sunshine, and he blesses the people of the Earth with a conscience so they know right from wrong, and he has given them many gifts which they use to make the world a better and safer place to live."

    Billy: "Then he sends most of them to Hell?"

    Pastor: "Yes, Billy."

    Billy: "Pastor?"

    Pastor: "Yes, Billy."

    Billy: "Is it love for God to give people good things for a few years to make them feel comfortable and worthwhile, and then send them to Hell?"

    Pastor: "Well, I . . . yes, it . . . is, I think because it would have been worse if, I mean it would be, um, well, it is, I guess, because he did not send them directly to Hell, but he allowed them to experience his goodness and his provision for his creatures. . . ."

    Billy: "Is it love to let someone experience something good they will remember forever and always hate God for, because that good thing they loved more than forgiveness?"

    Pastor: "Could we change the subject, Billy? I am not sure my answers are satisfying you."

    Billy: "O.K., Pastor. Did Jesus die for everybody?"

    Pastor: "Why, sure, Billy."

    Billy: "Pastor?"

    Pastor: "Yes, Billy."

    Billy: "If Jesus died for everybody, why isn’t everybody going to Heaven?"

    Pastor: "Well, Billy, it’s because not everybody will accept him."

    Billy: "But, Pastor, I thought Jesus saved us. You are telling me that we save Jesus."

    Pastor (laughing nervously): "Of course not, Billy! I believe that Jesus saves us completely! However would you get the idea that I believed we save Jesus?"

    Billy: "Well, Pastor, you told me that Jesus died for everybody, and that only those who accept him will be saved. So, this means Jesus’ death and resurrection, what Jesus does, cannot save us of itself, but something more is needed, and that something more is what we do by accepting him. For those who do not accept Jesus, they will perish. That means that Jesus’ dying for them cannot help them. In fact, it means that Jesus’ work for them was a miserable failure. On the other hand, those who accept him make his work effective by their acceptance—they save his work from being a failure. Without us, Jesus and his work of salvation would be doomed! If Jesus cannot save us without the permission we give of our own free will, then we are the real saviors, and Jesus is the one we save! Wow! What would he ever do without us?!"

    Pastor: "Er . . . uh . . . that’s not what I mean. I mean if, it is , I said . . . no, I believe Jesus is the one who does the saving, Billy, it’s just that . . . God has made it so that we . . . are free to acc . . . meaning, we are, are . . . Billy, the Bible is mysterious. It seems to mean certain things, but it doesn’t really, like it says . . . you are using logic, Billy. The Bible is not logical and the truths are not something we can fit into our human minds."

    Billy: "Pastor?"

    Pastor (now showing a slight frown): "Yes, Billy."

    Billy: "When you say the Bible is not logical, does that mean the Bible does not make sense? 'Cause you made sense when you said the Bible wasn't logical. I think it was because you used logic that you made sense."

    Pastor (now glowering at Billy): "No, Billy, I didn't mean the Bible does not make sense. It does make sense, but just not our kind of sense."

    Billy: "Pastor?"

    Pastor: "Yes, Billy."

    Billy: "Why would God give a Bible to us that did not make our kind of sense?"

    Pastor: "Well, Billy, it's not that . . . I think it's . . . it makes sense, just does not give us the answers we like to hear, and says things that seem contradictory but really are not, to keep us from asking smart-aleck questions."

    Billy: "So, God doesn't make our kind of sense to keep us humble?"

    Pastor: "That's right, Billy. God wants to keep us humble, so he does not let us think we can be absolutely certain about the things some proud people are certain about."

    Billy: "Pastor?"

    Pastor: "Yes, Billy."

    Billy: "Are you certain about what you just said to me?"

    Pastor (showing obvious irritation): "What do you think, Billy?"

    Billy: "I think you just called yourself a proud person, but I don't know why, 'cause you are so smart and know so much about God, and how much he needs us."

    Pastor: "Billy, why don't you go out and play, like the other children?"

    Billy: "Why should I go out and play, when I can stay in here with you and learn how to save God?"

    Pastor: "You need to be careful, Billy. I never said we save God. You are the one who said that, remember. I simply believe our choices are significant, and God does not treat us like robots. He created us to have true human responsibility."

    Billy: "Pastor?"

    Pastor (now looking quite angry): "This will have to be the last question, young man! I have important things to do and you should be outside playing."

    Billy: "When God put Abraham to sleep, was he telling him what he thought of his 'human responsibility'?"

    Pastor (seething): "I have a bad headache, Billy, and I can't answer any more of your questions, but I can tell you this. Whoever has been teaching you has been telling you things a boy your age should not even be thinking about. It sounds like you have been learning some kind of hyper-Calvinism! You better be careful, young man!"

    Billy: "I don't know about hyper-Calintisim, but I have been reading these things in the Bible. Thanks for straightening me out. I will try to cut these bad parts out. Can I borrow some scissors?"

    Pastor (rising from his chair): "Get out of here, you, you, you . . . !"

    Billy: "That's O.K., Pastor. I'll ask Joey. He was using some good scissors when we were cutting out our 'friends with Jesus' pictures for Sunday school. Good-bye."

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