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Vol.  9  No. 5 May 2007  Page 10
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D. Gene WestGod Is Not Reluctant to Save Us

By D. Gene West

    The religious philosophy that we refer to as “Calvinism,” which should more accurately be described as “Augustinianism,” for it was the product of the 6th century philosopher and theologian Augustine of Hippo, leaves the strong implication that God is not eager to save man. This philosophy also teaches that it takes a special work of the Holy Spirit in order to bring man to salvation, that he cannot come to be saved by reading and studying his Bible himself. They say without the “enabling grace” of the Holy Spirit one cannot even want to be saved.

    Others who practice a “mourner’s bench” system of religion believe that they must agonize, beg and plead with God, sometimes for even months or years on end before he finally allows them “through,” which we take to mean he grants them salvation, at least as they look upon it. Hence, by implication they are saying that it is a hard thing to drag salvation out of God.

    Sometimes when we preach on the horrors of hell and all that attends that, some get the idea that we are saying that God wants more people to go to hell than to heaven, and since they do not believe they can ever do enough to satisfy God’s demands, it is a difficult, if not impossible task, to be saved. It is true that the Bible warns of eternal punishment, and by using metaphors that we can understand, pictures it as being a horrific place (which it is). However, that does not mean God desires that any of his human creatures should make their eternal abode there! Just because one may warn another of the horrors of a rattlesnake bite does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination, that he has a desire for any person to be bitten by one of those monsters.

    Consequently, we must ask if there is any biblical evidence regarding the feelings and desires of God when it comes to the eternal salvation of mankind. We begin by noticing first an Old Testament passage, Isaiah 55:7, which is as follows: “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, and He will have mercy on him; and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” Let us notice in the first place, the plea of God for the wicked to forsake his lifestyle, and the unrighteous man to forsake his plans for unrighteousness and that both should return to the Lord. By that the prophet meant such persons should repent of their evil doings and come to God. Isaiah recorded that if the wicked and unrighteous will do that, God will: (1) “have mercy on him”; (2) “abundantly pardon” him. Two thoughts regarding God’s attitude toward saving the lost come out here. God will show mercy to him who repents and returns to him. There is no reluctance in that statement; it is a joyous one describing what God gives freely and without reservation. Next, look at the quantity of pardon (forgiveness) received by the one who repents and returns. Isaiah used the adverb “abundantly.” This comes from a Hebrew word meaning, “increased, stretched out, enlarged multiplied”; hence, our English word “abundantly.” There is nothing shortened, lacking or reluctantly given in God’s pardon.

    A second passage to which we must give attention is 2 Peter 3:9 in which Peter wrote by the Spirit’s inspiration, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Notice that in the latter part of this verse, Peter declared God is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” The words “not willing” come from two Greek words which mean, “not wanting.” In other words, there is no desire on the part of God that any person should be separated from him and eternally lost. There is a religious doctrine that teaches that God set so many to be saved and so many to be lost and that number cannot be changed. That would mean God wants some to be lost, but this verse says just the opposite. God is not reluctant to save and he does not save reluctantly!
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