A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God? (Ezek 18:23)

regretsGod wants all people to obey his summons to repent and believe the gospel, and so be saved (Acts 17:30; Ezek. 18:23).  In light of this, the church is called to preach the gospel indiscriminately to all people … to the ends of the earth (Matt 28:18). But sadly, all men without exception have a heart of stone, and in their willful blindness, turn a deaf ear and refuse to believe and follow Christ (Rom 3:11, 8:7; 1 Cor 2:14). He has no pleasure in seeing a humanity so unyielding and inflexible in their rebellion against Him.This saddens God and indeed angers Him. But even though all natural men reject this call to faith in Christ, God is yet still merciful. Instead of giving all of us what we justly deserve (His wrath), He still gives life and pardons more ill-deserving sinners than any man can count (Eph. 2:5; Rev. 7:9).

If God simply left us all to our “free will” as our Arminian friends contend, then none would be saved (Rom 9:16; John 3:19). None. This is because no man is naturally wiser than another (1 Cor 1:29, 30) but all men are equally captive to the flesh and unwilling to come to Christ. So leaving us to our so-called “free will” would actually the worst judgment God could possibly give a person – and yet this is precisely what He does to many of the self-seeking. (Rom 2:8) But Jesus’ work on the cross is so complete and sufficient for us that He was willing to do FOR US what we are unwilling to do for ourselves … giving us EVERYTHING we need for salvation, not only offering pardon to all that come to Him for life, but quickening to life all those the Father has given Him (John 6:63, 65, 37) that we would come to Him for life. It is incorrect to assume that if we are commanded to do something it is possible for us to accomplish it. When we, by grace, begin to understand what we cannot do (obey, repent, believe) we humbled before God who alone has the power to supply a new heart to believe (Ephesians 2:5,8) eyes to see and ears to hear (Deut 29:4, 30:6; Romans 9:16).

As Augustine once aptly said, “In some places God requires newness of heart [Ezek 18:31]. But elsewhere he testifies that it is given by him [Ezek. 11:19; 36:26]. But what God promises we ourselves do not do through choice or nature; but he himself does through grace.”

In this world, some get justice and some get mercy. But no one gets injustice.

Excerpt from Monergism

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2 responses to “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God? (Ezek 18:23)

  1. Jim April 27, 2014 at 11:56

    In my long time struggle to reconcile scripture, church history and the world we live in, where real people make real choices daily about everything, with the teaching of Calvin or Arminius’s take on things, I always come up, well a bit un-reconciled. Neither totally make sense to me, so much so that it has made me set aside my entire library of Systematic Theology books and look farther back than those two.

    The one thing about Calvinism that I can’t shake is that in the real world we live in, it makes God out to be more like a monster. And so your last line about “nobody get’s injustice” seems to me a real conflict. If nobody can be saved unless God regenerates them, and God will only regenerate those whom he chooses, then those he does not choose have no hope. But it doesn’t end there, even though they will spend an eternity in Hell, God still creates them, and punishes them for something that by their very nature they can not resist: Sin. This may be many things, but love is not one of them. Some try to get out of this dilemma by stating that they are punished because they are guilty, which is true. But that doesn’t really answer the dilemma. They can’t be anything BUT guilty.

    We can massage that all we want and try to make it sound better, but that is the way it is if Calvin got it right. Now, I readily admit that this may be the way God really does work, but if it is, not only does it seem unjust, it IS unjust. If a human father had two children, and prior to birth decided that one of the children he would lavish his love on and teach how they might honor and please him, and then reward that child with a wonderfully un-earned inheritance because simply because he/she was his child. We wouldn’t question his love. But if with the second child he decided he would do the opposite, keeping how to please him and live in a way that honored him secret, and punishing the child for failing to do something they could never do, throwing the child to the street to fend for itself, we would call that father many things, but loving isn’t one of them. It’s a bad example, I know, but you can see the point.

    I look at the cross, and when I do, I don’t see a God that seems unjust at all. Calvin’s take on things (let’s face it the guys was a kid at 23 when he penned the Institutes) seems to describe another God.

    So, are there any other options out there besides the new ideas that flowed from Calvin or Arminius?

    • Acidri April 27, 2014 at 20:48

      Jim it’s good to see you are struggling with theological issues. I am sorry I do not usually quote Calvin or Arminius (as both are helpful in many issues but atthe end of the day are fallible). When explaining these tensions I prefer to look to scripture.

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