god's love unaffected by human behavior unconditional by this verse

God’s Love is Unaffected by Man’s Behavior—Unconditional?

Facebooktwitterlinkedinrssyoutube

↻ Updated: March 7th, 2020 by JPE

God’s Love is Unaffected by Man’s Behavior?

I attended a church where the preacher told us that God’s love is unaffected by man’s behavior. Thus, it is the rule in understanding the appropriate attribute of our loving Creator, he added. “His love for humankind is unconditional,” echoed his confident exhortation; otherwise, He ceases to be God! The Parable of the Prodigal Son was the text used, and the emphasis was all about God’s love to His children (see: Luke 15:11-32). Is it biblical—or just plain hyper-Calvinism?

Hyper-Calvinism According to John R. Rice

Those who believe in eternal salvation wholly of grace are usually called Calvinists simply because, in the Protestant Reformation, Calvin strongly emphasized that doctrine long contradicted under the Roman heresy of salvation by merit and church rites. . ..Those who do believe a doctrine of God’s limited love, limited grace, limited atonement, and unchangeable plan to damn millions who could not be saved, are called hyper-Calvinists.

These extreme doctrines were first taught somewhat by Augustine. Then for about a thousand years no one found them in the Bible, of course, till Calvin developed such a theology. Adopting the theory men then persuaded themselves that they find it in the Bible.

Salvation by grace, eternal salvation, without works, is a Bible doctrine. I believe hyper-Calvinism is not a Bible doctrine but is a perversion by proud intellectuals who thus may try to excuse themselves from any spiritual accountability for winning souls. — John R. Rice

The Lord Loves the Righteous

True, God is always a God of love. It is His nature—His attribute. But His love toward me with reference to His giving me forgiveness and eternal life throws out the concept of God’s unconditional love. In Psalm 146:8c the Bible said, “The Lord loves the righteous.” It is the point. He loves His creations—of which we are a part—unconditionally. But He cannot welcome the sinful humanity in heaven without the seal of His forgiveness and perfect righteousness. Adam left paradise because of sin. Our transgressions separate us from God. We need a reconciliation with Him. God is both love and just. His love makes me eligible to enter heaven, but not His justice system which requires blood for the remission of my sin. Now comes the mystery of His love. He sent His beloved Son to satisfy the demand of the Almighty Father’s justice system, which is the shedding of the innocent and holy blood of His own Son, Jesus.

But We are Sinners Naturally

We, as the children of the disobedient Adam, are sinners naturally. (Rom. 1:20; 3:23) We don’t love God. (Rom. 1:32; 2 Tim. 3:2) It is our greatest sin since loving our Creator is a command we have transgressed daily. (Mark 12:28-30) The apostle Paul taught the doctrine clearly in Romans 5:8. He said, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” The love of God that gives me eternal life is fastened to Christ who died for me while I was still an unforgiven sinner. The Father’s affection for me therefore, is affected by my acceptance or rejection of Christ in my heart. His love is conditional or limited regarding man’s salvation and immortality.

The Error Called Predestination

If we incorporate the T.U.L.I.P (the hyper-Calvinists’ acronym) teaching in this discussion, the so-called unconditional love of God may fall under the “U” of TULIP, which means UNCONDITIONAL ELECTION. In this false doctrine, the hyper-Calvinists taught that “God has elected, based solely upon the counsel of his own will, some for glory and others for damnation (Romans 9:15,21). He has done this act before the foundations of the world (Ephesians 1:4-8).” The one-word description of this teaching is predestination. Some are predestined to hell, others to heaven. It means Christ dies for the chosen ones only—hence, He does not love all! Is it not blasphemous?

The familiar verses used to support unconditional election are Romans 9:15 and verse 21 (among others). Wrote Paul: “For He says to Moses, ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion’. . .. Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” (Acts 9:15; 21) This Scripture is the Word of God. We cannot disprove that God is a sovereign God. But speaking about our salvation and residence in heaven, God requires our free will to love Him. He requires our human responsibility as taught by the same author, the apostle Paul, to believe in the following chapter in Romans 10. God in Romans chapter 9 cannot contradict Himself in Romans 10. It is not true therefore, that God is not affected by our faith or rejection of Christ regarding the salvation of our souls. God is affected by man’s behavior concerning Jesus. Observe:

“[T]hat if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed’. . .. How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:9-11; 14)

The Requirement to Believe

We are required to believe. God’s love is always limited to our accepting or rejecting His plan for our salvation. That is the meaning of John 3:16. If you believe, you will be saved; but if you disbelieve, you will be damned. From the lips of Christ Himself came out this “Bible in one verse”: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) In King James version, John 3:36 is even more emphatic. It says: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (KJV – Emphasis added.) If you could go to heaven by “unconditional election,” then your believing in Jesus is tantamount to God’s shoving faith down your throat! On the contrary, the Scripture said that we need to believe by the operation of our human free will to trust the Savior Jesus. Paul and Silas taught the Philippian jailer to believe in Jesus to receive forgiveness and salvation. (See; Acts 16:31) Did they force him to believe? No. He did so voluntarily. He submitted to water baptism on his own accord. Without a human responsibility, the children of God would become like robots in heaven—without feelings of affection for God in light of Christ’s finished work at Calvary. God is love and love always exists in the climate of freedom. Without my freedom to choose to love Jesus, I could not love Him truly. The Jihadist’s “convert or die” teaching is impossible in the province of true Christianity. My love for Christ flourishes because of my free will to love Him. The element of force, for example, is present in the case of rape against the victim’s free will, of which instance no love can live through. Since God is love, He won’t bring me to heaven against my will. Thus, “unconditional election” is a false doctrine!

Of Resisting Grace

True, the Holy Spirit is wooing man to receive salvation through faith in Christ. Our Lord said: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44) In John 1:9, we learned that Christ also enlightens every man. But we may reject God’s invitation; thus, the TULIP’s “Irresistible Grace” doctrine (the partner of “Unconditional Election” in the hyper-Calvinist’s Theology) is unscriptural. Note Matthew 23:37 since Christ said: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” The word “unwilling” means grace can be resisted. The teaching known as irresistible grace is a man-made teaching just like the so-called unconditional election.

God is affected by my behavior toward Christ, our Savior. The teaching that God would give me all the advantages to get salvation as a chosen person is untrue, since everyone is invited to the Kingdom of God. Christ died for all since He loved all. God does not want anyone to perish in hell because He loves all. “The Lord,” wrote the apostle Peter, “is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Pet. 3:9)

The Substance of God’s Invitation

We find that faith and the thirst for the truth of God serve as the essential elements in defining the substance of God’s invitation for the man to live forever in heaven. In the first chapter of the Book of John, the whole idea from verses 9 to 13 stems from the grace of God to the response of man. Again, the salvation from hell as offered by God considers the human behavior toward Jesus, our Lord. The apostle John says:

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13)

The Command to Come and Receive

In the above Scripture, we notice the need to RECEIVE Jesus to have the RIGHT to become CHILDREN OF GOD. The hyper-Calvinist would argue that you will receive Jesus because of God’s irresistible grace and unconditional election since you are a chosen person—predestined to enter heaven before the foundation of the world. This man-made theology eliminates human free will and responsibility to choose. But it is not a sound Bible teaching, since the Fall of Adam came after a choice to disobey his Creator. We have the proclivity to choose since God created us in His image, which includes the gift to decide. Hence Christ said: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.” (John 5:39-40) Our Lord lamented on the people’s unwillingness “to come to Me.”

In Revelation 22:17, God’s invitation to live forever points to people who hears God’s Word—those who are athirst for the truth and those who wish to receive eternal life. Note this Scripture: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.”

You decision to COME is needed to live forever since it is impossible for God to invite us to come when in reality He is forcing us to come (even against our will!) by His irresistible grace and unconditional election.

Therefore, our decision to come and believe in Christ’s atoning blood matters to God—faith affects Him, contrary to the teaching that the person’s behavior does not concern God.

READ MORE: Hyper-Calvinism Rejected by Most Christians

What Did John Piper Say About God’s Unconditional Love?

john-piper-by-this-verse

John Piper1 seems greater than most of us having written over 50 books already. I found from his website (accessed 1-22-2013) a topic concerning God’s unconditional love. I am always amazed of Piper’s ability to provoke and challenge his readers intellectually. The following is his defense on the doctrine of God’s unconditional love, the beloved teaching of most hyper-Calvinists:

“How then does God love unconditionally…:

1. “He loves us with electing love unconditionally. ‘He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ’ (Ephesians 1:4-5).” 

2. “He does not base this election on foreseeing our faith. On the contrary, our faith is the result of being chosen and appointed to believe, as Acts 13:48 says, ‘As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.'”

3. “He loves us with regenerating love before we meet any condition. The new birth is not God’s response to our meeting the condition of faith. On the contrary, the new birth enables us to believe.” 

4. “’Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been [already!] born of God,’ (1 John 5:1). ‘[We] were born, not . . . of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13).” (Numeric list format supplied.)

The Loopholes in Piper’s Contentions

Piper’s Argument Marked as Paragraph #1:

“He loves us with electing love unconditionally. ‘He chose us in him before the foundation of the world . . . for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ’ (Ephesians 1:4-5).”

I think Piper’s arguments have loopholes. For in paragraph #1 above, the verse speaks about “adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,” which tells already of a condition, that is, “through Jesus Christ.” God’s election before the foundation of the world through faith in Christ Jesus is a condition. Such election is based on God’s omniscience and foreknowledge that the condition to trust Christ is met. Paul said that, “For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Rom. 8:29) The unconditional election is a false teaching since there is a condition to believe in Jesus. As mentioned before, let’s hear John 3:36 (KJV) again: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” Faith in Christ is a condition of either God’s love or God’s wrath. It does not matter if you are chosen before the foundation of the world since God knows all. Before the beginning of time, God knew you would trust in Jesus for your salvation. Thus, the unconditional election preached by the hyper-Calvinists is a man-made doctrine.

The first teaching we questioned above was the argument that God’s love is not affected by our behavior, with the father [God] of the Prodigal Son used as proof. Now that we have rebutted Piper’s argument #1 favoring God’s unconditional-love doctrine, let’s move on to Piper’s argument marked as paragraph #2:

Piper’s Argument Marked as Paragraph #2:

“He does not base this election on foreseeing our faith. On the contrary, our faith is the result of being chosen and appointed to believe, as Acts 13:48 says, ‘As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.'”

I for one have been so challenged by Acts 13:48. A pastor-friend of mine told me that he never supported hyper-Calvinism until he met this verse: “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” In short, God’s love is unconditional to the chosen ones. They accepted Christ since they were appointed or given the grace to believe!

Piper’s teaching is just so far-off as it strays into the so-called “born again to believe” heresy. Note again Piper’s contention: “He [God] does not base this election on foreseeing our faith. On the contrary, our faith is the result of being chosen and appointed to believe.”

Let us draw the contextual Scripture that has prompted Luke to conclude that “as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” In the preceding verses the author describes the rejection of the Jewish crowd of the Gospel and Paul’s intention to preach to the Gentiles instead. Note that the “next Sabbath nearly the whole city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; since you repudiate it and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have placed You as a light for the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’ When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:44-48) At the surface, it is unconditional election as endorsed by the hyper-Calvinists.

The problem with the unconditional election (“appointed to eternal life believed”) fastened into Acts 13:48 is the possibility of involving an anomalous conclusion, according to McGarvey. What is it? Here is the quote from McGarvey’s Original Commentary on Acts:

If their interpretation were admitted, it would involve the passage in some difficulties which none of them seem to have noticed. If it be true that “as many as were foreordained to eternal life believed,” then there were some of the foreordained left in that community who did not believe. Hence, all those who did not then believe, whether adults or infants, were among the reprobate, who were predestinated to everlasting punishment. Now it is certainly most singular [unusual] that so complete a separation of the two parties [the Jews and the Gentiles] should take place throughout a whole community at one time; and still more singular that Luke should so far depart from the custom of inspired writers as to state the fact. Again, the same statement implies that all who believed on that occasion were of the elect. For, if the parties who believed were those who had been foreordained to eternal life, then none of the non-elect could have been among the number. Here is another anomalous incident: that on this occasion all who believed were of the number who would finally be saved, and that Luke should be informed of the fact and make it known to his readers. Certainly we should not adopt an interpretation involving conclusions so anomalous, unless we are compelled to do so by the obvious force of the words employed. (Emphasis/Underscore added. Source: https://bit.ly/37WQftH)

The original word for “appointed” (or “ordained” in KJV) in Acts 13:48 however, “is not once used in Scripture to express eternal predestination of any kind” — according to “Wesley’s Explanatory Notes.” It further states that:

“As many as were ordained to eternal life — St. Luke does not say fore-ordained. He is not speaking of what was done from eternity, but of what was then done, through the preaching of the Gospel. He is describing that ordination, and that only, which was at the very time of hearing it. During this sermon those believed, says the apostle, to whom God then gave power to believe. It is as if he had said, “They believed, whose hearts the Lord opened;” as he expresses it in a clearly parallel place, speaking of the same kind of ordination, Acts 16:14, etc. It is observable, the original word is not once used in Scripture to express eternal predestination of any kind. The sum is, all those and those only, who were now ordained, now believed. Not that God rejected the rest: it was his will that they also should have been saved: but they thrust salvation from them. Nor were they who then believed constrained to believe. But grace was then first copiously offered them. And they did not thrust it away, so that a great multitude even of Gentiles were converted. In a word, the expression properly implies, a present operation of Divine grace working faith in the hearers.” — Wesley’s Explanatory Notes (Source: https://bit.ly/2sYVjiJ).

Someone (he called himself “Godismyjudge”) posted an observation on Wesley’s commentary titled, “Wesley on Acts 13:48”:

The “original word [tasso] is not once used in Scripture to express eternal predestination of any kind – Tasso would be an unusual word to convey predestination. Προορίζω (proorizo) would be more common. In fact, this would be the only such use of tasso in that sense out of the eight New Testament uses and 65 Old Testament (using the Septuagint) uses. Further, tasso is in the pluperfect, which would be a strange tense for predestination; one would expect something more definitive, like an aorist or perfect tense for predestination.

“He is not speaking of what was done from eternity, but of what was then done, through the preaching of the Gospel. – In Greek, when you join a perfect participle with an imperfect “to be” verb you get a periphrastic pluperfect. In this verse ησαν is an imperfect to be verb and τεταγμενοι is a perfect participle, so we have a pluperfect. The timing for pluperfects are derived from their contexts. The Gentiles were ordained to eternal life when they heard the gospel and received it with gladness. ‘Eternity past’ isn’t in the context and appears as more of an aside, outside the historical narrative, which is a problem for Calvinists since pluperfects derive their timings from narratives.

“Not that God rejected the rest: it was his will that they also should have been saved: but they thrust salvation from them. – Verse 48 and 46 parallel each other. “they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were devoted to eternal life” from verse 48 corresponds to verses 46 “but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life”. The Calvinist interpretation is asymmetrical and the Arminian interpretation is symmetrical.” (Source: https://bit.ly/2TlJ22n)

Adam Clarke also stated that the word “ordained” or “appointed” is not related to predestination to eternal life. Here is a part of Clarke’s exposition:

“As many as were ordained to eternal life believed . . . Though the word in this place has been variously translated, yet, of all the meanings ever put on it, none agrees worse with its nature and known signification than that which represents it as intending those who were predestinated to eternal life: this is no meaning of the term, and should never be applied to it. Let us, without prejudice, consider the scope of the place: the Jews contradicted and blasphemed; the religious proselytes heard attentively, and received the word of life: the one party were utterly indisposed, through their own stubbornness, to receive the Gospel; the others, destitute of prejudice and prepossession, were glad to hear that, in the order of God, the Gentiles were included in the covenant of salvation through Christ Jesus; they, therefore, in this good state and order of mind, believed. Those who seek for the plain meaning of the word will find it here: those who wish to make out a sense, not from the Greek word, its use among the best Greek writers, and the obvious sense of the evangelist, but from their own creed, may continue to puzzle themselves. . . kindle their own fire. . . having bidden adieu to the true meaning of a passage so very simple. . . wonder how it ever came to be misunderstood and misapplied. Those who wish to see more on this verse may consult Hammond, Whitby, Schoettgen, Rosenmuller, Pearce, Sir Norton Knatchbull, and Dodd.” — Adam Clarke Commentary. (Emphasis added. Source: https://bit.ly/35JyVHp)

Let us end our opposition to “Piper’s Argument Marked as Paragraph #2” by saying that for over 400 years, the Calvinist-Arminian debate lingers without conclusion. I’d like to think that my position is “Calvin-Arminian” since I am opposed to hyper-Calvinism and to raw Arminianism. Between one to ten, I ranked myself seven or more Calvinist than Arminian since I believe in Ephesians 2:8-10 for my salvation, and I don’t believe in the Arminian’s sinless-perfection teaching. This website records my theology. I stated these facts since the references I used above (McGarvey, Wesley, and Clarke) were all the Arminian persuasion. What I want is the truth, and the defense for or against the Calvinist-Arminian divide is insignificant compared with what really God wants us to know. Concerning Acts 13:48, I based my position on the information referred to above from different commentaries. The Coffman’s Commentaries on the Bible summarizes the observations mentioned above:

“As many as were ordained to eternal life believed … As Milligan said, this means that “As many as were disposed to accept God’s plan, according to which they had been chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world, believed.” Before the world was, God ordained that people who would hear his word and submit their will to his would receive eternal life, and that those who would not do this could not receive eternal life. There is nothing in this place that suggests any “immutable decree” regarding specific individuals, the ordination in this place having reference, not to individuals at all, but to classes of people. Furthermore, every individual ever born has the right of decision with regard to which class of persons will be his own.” (Emphasis added. Source: https://www.studylight.org/commentary/acts/13-48.html#jumpList)

Piper’s Argument #3: New Birth First Before Believing!

“He loves us with regenerating love before we meet any condition. The new birth is not God’s response to our meeting the condition of faith. On the contrary, the new birth enables us to believe.”

Piper is telling us that we believe in Christ because of our second birth and that our second birth came to us since we were predestined or chosen or elected to eternal life. He further said that the second birth is not “God’s response to our meeting the condition of faith.” According to Piper, faith is not a condition to salvation (also termed as the second birth). One believes because one was predestined to believe. This teaching removes the human responsibility to believe. Christ said in John 3:16 that “whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God requires us to BELIEVE, but the hyper-Calvinists teach that we believe because of God’s irresistible grace and unconditional election and predestination to believe. What a heretical doctrine!

John R Rice by this verse

Although his contention is intellectual, hyper-Calvinism (or so Piper’s doctrine belongs) is not Christ-glorifying. John R. Rice 2 once said that this teaching is the other way of saying that Christ Jesus does not love all. He predestines some to hell, others to heaven. (Source: https://tinyurl.com/v6sdh87)

Piper’s Argument #4: Born of God First, Then Believe in Christ, Second

“’Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been [already!] born of God,’ (1 John 5:1). ‘[We] were born, not . . . of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God’ (John 1:13).”

This contention is just related to the above (argument #3), which we had just discussed and answered already. We believe that there’s a condition to God’s love, but Piper and the other hyper-Calvinists said that God’s love or dealings with humanity has no conditions. As the head of this paper states: “God’s love is unaffected by man’s behavior.” It is hyper-Calvinism, the false teaching we are featuring here.

Let me reiterate what Piper taught. He said if you believe in Christ, it is so because you were born again already. As mentioned above, it is how the hyper-Calvinists explain their “BORN AGAIN TO BELIEVE” teaching. The reason you believe now is that you were born again earlier (before you believe in the Gospel this time!). The Scripture used to defend this heresy is John 1:13 which states that “. . .who [the Children of God] were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

The Bible however gave no space for ambiguity when Christ taught that “unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3) For the hyper-Calvinist, you need not labor to get the second-birth experience because it is not your will to be born again but the will of God. If you are predestined to inherit the God’s Kingdom, His irresistible grace and unconditional election will do the trick for you. No matter how many decades you spent studying your Bible if your are predestined to hell, to hell you must go. That makes hyper-Calvinism so heretical since it accuses Christ of not loving all—not dying for all!

All these instructions were invented and the theology of it formed (the hyper-Calvinist Theology!) because of the push to remove the human will to trust Christ in the doctrine. First off, I want to prove that faith in the Gospel is necessary to salvation. I experienced it—that’s how I got saved. Wrote the apostle Paul that he is “not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” He added, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. (1 Cor. 15:1-2) Note the phrase, “unless you believed in vain” (not a saving faith!). Salvation follows believing. If we study John chapter one and verses eleven and twelve (a part of Piper’s power verse, namely, John 1:13) we would meet the concept of faith and the act of RECEIVING Christ as a precondition to get salvation. We have the human responsibility to receive the Gospel and trust Christ and in His word—before we could become children of God. The word “receive” is even stressed since it played in the parallelism presented in these two verses (vv.11-12). Observe:

“He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”

John chapter one and verse thirteen is a part of verses 11 and 12. Its role is to show how the second birth happened AFTER BELIEVING. Note in this Scripture that God gave “the right to become children of God” only after receiving Christ into the heart by faith. You are NOT a child of God BEFORE you express faith inwardly in Jesus and in His claims. After believing, the Spirit of Jesus will live in your soul. (Rom. 8:9) How did it happen? For the born again experience (after believing) Christ told Nicodemus: “Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:7-8) When the Holy Spirit indwells you, it’s just like being touched by the sea-breeze in the inner man. There is wonder and mystery in it—a miracle if you will. When the harlot, Mary Magdalene, became a saint, it is not a spiritual miracle? When the church persecutor Saul got converted and became the apostle Paul, is it a transformation of divine origin? The second birth is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in our soul, but it follows faith. To the Philippian jailer, Paul (and Silas) said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” It did not say, “Now that you are saved, you will start believing.” Well, it is not what the Bible teaches. It is hyper-Calvinism; we need to resist such man-made teaching.

Now Let’s Discuss the Prodigal Son—the Preacher’s Text

I want to revisit my opening story in this article. After church, I told my children not to believe in what we have just heard that God is not affected by our behavior since it is a false teaching and therefore harmful to our Christian faith and practice.

Before we close, let’s examine the word of our Lord Jesus Christ in this parable in Luke 15:20-24 (the sermon text), for us to understand that the preaching mentioned above was not in accord with the Scriptures:

“So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet;   and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and celebrate;  for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate.” (NASB).

We all know that the “father” here is referred to God, and the idea is all about our Father God’s nature to forgive us our sins. Yes, it is about His great love for His children, the believers and followers of Christ Jesus. The Prodigal Son was forgiven, for it was said that “while he [the son] was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Then, a celebration a was ordered by the father for the black sheep of the family has returned home!

Remember that the Parable is silent about the possibility of the Prodigal Son not repenting. Had he not repented, the father wouldn’t have the opportunity of kissing him and calling for a party. The father and son break-up had not been worked out, just like Adam’s separation from his Creator after his Fall. Second, the word used is “son,” not a hired servant. John wrote that if you are God’s child you will not turn you back on your Father forever. The backsliding Christian will return to the faith, in contrast to the apostate (unsaved) ones. “They went out from us,” John said, “but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” The Prodigal Son is equivalent to a backsliding but born-again Christian.

In Hebrews, we also find the impossibility of the son losing his sonship. (Heb. 10:26-27, 28, 39)

Now what do you think was the very condition which made the father [God] to forgive his sinful, prodigal son? It says in Luke 15 that “his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.” Now this happened because the prodigal son repented. That was the condition; therefore the teaching that God’s is not affected by man’s behavior is unscriptural! Let’s observe verses 17 to 20 in Luke chapter 15:

But when he came to his senses [or repented], he said, “How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger!  I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight;  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.'”  So he got up and came to his father. (NASB).

From the above verses, we find a contrary teaching: The father [God] was affected by the repentance of the Prodigal Son. We commented here that the Prodigal Son represents the children of God, the born-again Christians. The saved Christian will always return to our Father God after backsliding since Christ promised that “no one will snatch them out of My hand.” (John 10:28b) But what about those unsaved souls around us, will God be affected by their behavior? Yes, when they repent and trust Jesus and His Word for their forgiveness and salvation. This Scripture may help us:

If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place. . .. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. . .. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” (1 Chron. 7:13-15; 1 John 1:9; Acts 3:19)

Conclusion

True, God loves all; hence He gave Jesus Christ, His beloved Son to die for the propitiation of our sins. Christ’s shed blood is for all, but only those who believe [the condition] will be cleansed from guilt through it. For the blood of Christ cleanses us from all sin, provided we believe [the condition].

“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;  so that whoever believes [the condition] will in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes [the condition] in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  John 3:14-16 NASB

Related Verses (NASB):

  • “I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:3)
  • “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.” (Hebrews 13:9)
  • “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:2-4)
  • “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.” (Ephesians 5:6)
  • “Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.” (Ephesians 2:3)
  • But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EACH PERSON ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; but to those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, wrath and indignation. (Romans 2:5-9)

 

References

1John Piper, “Desiring God,” Is God’s Love Unconditional, 20 February 2009, httpS://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/is-gods-love-unconditional (accessed 22 January 2013).
2John R. Rice,”Jesus-Is-Savior.Com,” Hyper-Calvinism: A False Doctrine, http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Books,%20Tracts%20&%20Preaching/Printed%20Books/Dr%20John%20Rice/hypercalvinism.htm (accessed 22 January 2013)

 

 

About Jun P. Espina

A former educator, Jun P. Espina is a family man, author, blogger, painter, a Bible believer, a preacher, businessman, a lover of books—passionate about many things. He believes life is good when fed constantly with the biblical truth that is wiser than what most people think. Find him at Facebook, Twitter, or at www.junespina.com.


all that matters

Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail
Arminianism, Bible, Bible Doctrines, Calvinism, Conscience, Decision, Doubter, Experience God, Faith, False Teaching, God's Word, Grace, Human Responsibility, Known of God, Salvation, Saved, Sin , , , , , , , , ,


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *