A Voice in the
December 27, 1998
Calvinism and soul-winning (Matthew 13:54-58)
--pasted from study--
And if one "divides the Word of God correctly" then 2Pt3:9 hardly speaks of God's willingness to save every(body), as it says earlier "the Lord...is long-suffering toward US... not willing that any (of us) should perish, but that all(of us) should come to repentance."
Now, the word translated as "all" is Greek PAS, which may mean ALL if unrestricted, but never means all when defined by some other qualification in the context.
See the Gospel of John where it often says: "all the world went after Him" (where those who said so never did) etc.
So having once defined the goup toward which the Lord is longsuffering as "US" (the believers), the apostle by using "any" and "all" refers to those who belong to the same group.
The same thought is found in John 17, where the Lord prays for his own, and not for the world.
[Ed: some of this explanation was obviously lifted from OLB's notes by Spurgeon at 2Pt3:9. I've been wondering how long it would be until some Calvinist doctrine would become apparent in the MKJV/LITV. With a name like "Sovereign Grace Publishers"; this is the name of the publishing arm of "Christian Literature World" who produces the MKJV/LITV. I had quoted that verse from memory and simply added the reference. But as this person has "corrected" the verse with "(of us)" illustrates the italicizing of those words in MKJV/LITV, which KJV and NKJV don't even include those words. And, truly, the words do not appear in the originals. I stand by the quote as it appears in the study.]
I didn't realize that you were a hyper-calvanist until I got your e-mail criticizing those who give out tracts and witness to others. We do not know who God has put in the scrap pile. I have seen people come to Christ who many had given up on, but thank God, He hadn't.
First of all, let's get "me" out of this equation, and then we'll address this issue. I could introduce you to a couple of ol' friends of mine, who ARE "Calvinist" in their outlook. They explained the "five points" to me a while back. I think they would agree, also being on this mailing list, that I am NOT "Calvinist" in the truest sense of the word. And, while they explained the Five Points, I would not now be able to regurgitate them to you. You've been on this list long enough to know that I do NOT look to the "great men of God" for direction in Doctrine. On average, I peek into a commenary perhaps once a year, if that often. What you get from VW comes from the Scriptures through the Holy Spirit. The study tools I use are those which help me understand the WORDS in Scripture, to know word meanings AS THEY APPEAR in God's Word. I do not know (intimately) about Calvin, Luther, Zwingly, Edwards, Swindol, Moody...or anybody else you might want to put on a list as being "great." I am NOT "of Paul or Apollos...or Calvin or ??" None of these (mere) men died for my sin. They do not sit at God's right hand, interceding on my behalf. (Heb7:25,Rom8:34)
Now...let's get down to business...
You accuse me of "criticizing" those who give out tracts and witness. If you read that paragraph more carefully, you will understand that I was not criticizing those activities, but the people who rely upon them as a measure of their standing and faithfulness before God. And later, when I wrote that they "can..be disobedient" please understand that that word "can" was chosen carefully. I did not write that they "are" disobedient. Only that, they "can be" ...it "is possible" to go too far. That is, IF (that's a big "if") the Holy Spirit instructs the believer to "stop." But again, that's where the moment-by-moment communion with the Lord comes in, so that we are speaking when we should speak. Being silent when so called. Retreating when thus instructed.
And then you complain about the "scrap pile" and how God "didn't give up" when others had. Just for the record, the "Calvinist" doctrine of "irresistable grace" is not what foreknowledge and predestination are about. Predestination does NOT mean that man has "no choice but" to receive Him if He calls. And God chooses NOT TO CALL others. I think the whole point of the parable of the Sower answers that. The seed fell on ALL KINDS of ground. Christ is presented, in some form, to ALL humanity. (Stay tuned for January's article on Romans 1) And if there were not "free will" the whole point of Jesus' invitation "come to Me.." (Mt11:28) is a farce, if some who heard that invitation chose not to come to Him. As is the invitation in Rev22:17. If the "chosen" have no choice...why give any invitations? Just reap them in, and be done with it...
With Israel God said, "And the LORD has sent to you all His servants the prophets, rising early and sending them; but you have not listened nor bowed down your ear to hear. (Jer25:4) They "chose" to reject. And we know the story; ultimately God dispersed Israel. All this, even though Israel was God's special "chosen" people. If we look at the O.T. accounts, we see many "different" prophets on the scene at various times. And, pretty much EVERY prophet might have considered his ministry a "failure" because Israel continued in their rebellion. Elijah moaned, "I alone am left..." (1Kg19:14) Ezekiel was told to proclaim "for they are rebellious" (Ez2:7) But he died, and Israel was STILL rebellious. And ultimately Paul proclaimed against them, "..be it known to you that the salvation of God is sent to the nations.." (Acts28:28) Wasn't this rather "harsh" of Paul to make this proclamation, which he later substantiates in Romans 11?? ...putting them on the scrap heap...
Now, let's bring this down to "application" to us, where the rubber meets the road. If the Lord tells you to "stop" witnessing to some specific person, does it automatically mean they are on the "scrap pile"? In some cases, yes. But in other cases, no. If we go back to our Matthew study, Jesus "did not do many mighty works..." (13:58) They were possessed with "unbelief." Even His own "siblings" were in unbelief. (Jn7:5) But we also know that eventually, His half-brother, James, obviously came to believe in Him, and became one of the primary leaders of the early Church. (Acts15:13,Gal1:19) Probably being the writer of the N.T. book of James. And his brother Judas wrote Jude.
Some believe that the only way to witness is to hand out tracts. If someone else does not join in with them, they are counted as not "living up to" God's will. If people "give up on" somebody, does it really mean THEY gave up? If God tells John to "stop" witnessing to Joe, does it mean God gave up on Joe? John doesn't realize it, but later, as Joe is going through other experiences as God deals with him, Matt is going to come along and share more with Joe. And this is all part of God's plan for Joe.
Paul wrote, "I have planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase." (1Cor3:6) You see, there are many "gifts" in the Church (1Cor12) that approach specific needs from many different angles...as the "same Spirit works all these things.." (vs11) Thus, who do you think you are, Mr.Tract Giver, to assume that, just because YOU gave out a tract, that YOU "get to" count that scalp on your belt?? It is NOT "your scalp" to count! GOD is the One Who is in charge. You can stuff those tracts down Joe's throat, and talk his ear off, but unless the "Father" is "draw[ing]" him (Jn6:44), your work is all in vain. And, NO, I'm not condemning the giving of tracts. People have been saved after reading them. Only, do so as the Lord directs... And sometimes YOU need to "get out of the way" so that "Matt" can have access to that person to minister, using their God-given gift/s, even though you, personally, may never meet Matt or know of his existence.
Just so there is no misunderstanding...please! This is important! We, as people, do not PUT that person on the "scrap pile." We do not have that authority. That is judgment which belongs to God the Son. (Jn5:22) If the Holy Spirit tells us to "stop" do we always know that the person has, thus, been put on the reject pile? We may, we may not. If we DO know that, it is cause for further sorrow. But the Lord is not obligated to inform us either way. Our duty is to "be found faithful." (1Cor4:2) To be "in the way" the Lord is leading us to go. "At the command of the Lord" to go, to wait, to stop.
Just remember... the "scalps" are not yours! While it says, "he who wins souls is wise." (Pr11:30) the souls do NOT "belong" to us to add to our (personal) trophy collection, but to God... "all souls are Mine..." (Ez18:4) and it is "God who gives the increase..."