Saturday, September 27, 2008

The World According to John Owen

Most professing Christians interpret John 3:16 something like this: God so affectionately, and salvifically, loves everyone who has ever and will ever exist, that He gave His only Son, that those people who are virtuous enough to believe will be elected by God to receive eternal life.

This interpretation is odd because, while God affectionately and salvifically loved all those people who lived before Christ, He allowed them no chance for salvation. Nor does it trouble them that a large percentage of people who have lived since the Christ, have had no chance to hear the gospel.

Some like Billy Graham have gotten around this by falsely proclaiming one does not need to hear the gospel to be saved, but simply must respond to the light given them. As Dr. Graham states here, (please note that he says its true)"because I believe it"...note not because the Bible teaches it. I believe this error is grievious.

John Owen states the following:
"If every one in the world be intended, why doth not the Lord, in pursuit of this love, reveal Jesus Christ to every one whom he so loved?...."

He later states regarding the erroneous view of "world"

":secondly, The love of God towards innumerable (is) fruitless and vain: thirdly, the Son of God to be given to them who, first, never hear word of Him:secondly, have no power granted to believe in him;

fourthly, That God is mutable in His love or else He still loveth those that be in hell: fifthly, That he doth not give all things to them to whom He gives the Son, contrary to Romans 8:32: sixthly that He knows not certainly beforehand who shall be saved:

unless, I say all these blasphemies and absurdities be granted, it cannot be maintained that by the world here is meant all and everyone of mankind, but only men in common scattered throughout the world, which are the elect."

I suggest an error in the American Church today is that we somehow think God owes us a chance. We have not got our minds around God's infinite holiness, and our sinfulness by nature and choice.


byron said...

Hola, amigo! As I promised from the Healthy Questions blog, I come with no stones in my hand...the Truce is on! Though in truth, I agree with much of what you say.

The Bible holds a wealth of topics about which we can agree with reckless abandon. I look forward to your moving on to some of these topics.

I wanted to point you over to my new blog...I'm afraid my first real post (not the welcome) didn't come out quite as I intended, but as you can see it's late and I must be to bed. Would love for you to check it out and hit me with your critique. As I mentioned across the fence, the door is open if you want to write for's the link:

See you soon!

Beyond Zaphon said...

Thanks for the link. I will take a look at the sight. As we were discussing yesterday, over the fence, I will look for places where you could find articles.

We do agree on much and I admire how you respectfully communicated your opposing thoughts.

We ended up not making S'mores last night in our backyard, but look outside tonight, as we might make another attempt at it. You, your better half, and the boys shoudl come over and roast a marshmellow or two.


Jason Alligood said...


I have enjoyed watching you and Alan wrestle through this topic (not against each other mind you, but in your own thinking.)

Many people do lack the knowledge to check the context and see that Jesus uses very strong words about condemnation as well.

I would submit that this lack of context (and lack of Biblical knowledge all together) has fed what we naturally want to be, and that is "man-centered."

If we were to see things issues from a "God-centered" perspective, it would help tremendously. But it is a fearful task, for at the root of it, "God-centeredness" bears out our utter wretchedness in His sight.

It's much easier to pretend that God loves everyone equally and that man not choosing God's way, but there own way is the reason they end up in hell. (They forget, they were already headed there, unless God rescues them!)

God is not obliged to love anyone in any way, in just the same way you and I are not expected to love other women the same way we love our wives. (God has a term for that too!)

Let's not forget that God has shown a common love for all mankind in that they are created in His image,and He still allows the rain to fall on the regenerate and unregenerate, but there is a far greater and much more special love shown to the elect who are His adopted sons and daughters.

Side note: We must also remember that God's loving is not an emotion (not that God doesn't have emotion), but that it is an action.

Well, I've rambled enough. Thanks for the great posts.

Beyond Zaphon said...

Thanks for the comment and your input. I found the discussion with Alan and Byron edifying and humbling. I like how you illustrate God's love toward the lost vs the elect by comparing our love toward our wives verses other women. I will be borrowing that illustration.

Truly God's elective love is beyond my language to communicate. This love causes me to love Him, His Bride, and the unregenerate.

I also appreciated your thoughts on the aspect of God's love that is action. It is not fickle or blind. Christ does have emotional love towards His elect, but it is perfect and different than human emotion...particularly in our fallen condition.

Thanks again Jason

Jason Alligood said...

Dave, I cannot claim that illustration as my own. Phil Johnson (of Pyromaniacs) gave it in a rebuttal of "What Love is This?" by Dave Hunt.

Beyond Zaphon said...

Noted...I really like Phil Johnson. What rebuttal are you referring to? I would not mind seeing how Phil responded to that book.