Mark 9: 40 For whoever is not against us is for us.
Some Christians “act as if some vast conspiracy is brewing in America over the Christian faith, with naysayers organized against Christians. They feel like they live life on the cultural margins, so they take that as their identity–they count their marginalization as their righteousness. They are not looking to Jesus as their only righteousness, and so they act from prejudice, assuming that everyone hates them, and they act in a way that confirms this.” (Crucifying Morality, p 105, R. W. Glenn)
“For the manifestation of His glory”—that is how the Bible itself explains everything. Romans 9:13 declares “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.” Romans 9:22 tells the truth: “God, desiring to show His wrath and to make known His power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, in order to make known the riches of His glory for vessels of mercy, which He has prepared beforehand for glory.”
The Bible was written to those who believe the Christian gospel (not the message of tolerance and loves everybody), so when Bible readers see a “loves us”, they need to ask the question Tonto asked the Lone Ranger— “who’s the us?” https://sojo.net/magazine/january-february-2002/tonto-principle
According to the Bible, God does not love all sinners, and that love is never conditioned on the sinner. God has ordained evil things to happen to both the non-elect and the elect, but the promise of Romans 8:28 is that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”
Anti-individualism is the reigning ideology of our day. Most political and religious self-help books end with the exhortation to find fulfillment by finding community. We meet together to be chastised again for being too concerned about ourselves alone. We are reminded that “He loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20) does not eliminate the greater truth that “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2).
Since me does not rule out us, then us does not rule out them. And since almost nobody talks about elect and non-elect, the truth that Christ died for His sheep cannot be understood as denying that Christ died also for goats. So the Arminians tell us. Election yes, but not when we are talking about Christ’s death
But what about the “Calvinists” who will also not talk about election when they are talking about Christ’s death and love? They only say, “if you put your trust in Him,” and will not spell out the antithesis between sheep for whom Christ died and goats for whom Christ did not die. They double-talk about God’s love. On the one hand, everyone listening to them is regarded as one of the “us” who Christ loves. On the other hand, listeners are being warned that Christ’s love depends on them “putting their trust in”. At issue here is not only the extent of Christ’s love but the nature of Christ’s love. If Christ’s love is often unrequited, then even His love for those who love Him back is of a very different nature than the biblical love which never lets go of any God gave His Son.
It does no good to say that God took the initiative, or even that God loved the unlovely. In our own relationships, one of us takes the first step. But if the other person does not respond to the first love, it amounts to nothing. Think about that. I say it quite seriously. If Christ’s love is an initiative which depends on our response, then Christ’s love amounts to nothing.
Galatians 2:20 does not say that the Son of God loved you and gave Himself for you. Nor does the text give clergy the authority to extrapolate that God loves you and gave Himself for you. Rather, the next verse says “if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” If Christ’s love depends on you keeping the law to put your trust in Him, then Christ’s love amounts to nothing and His death was for no purpose.
A love which possibly amounts to nothing? In our relationships, we love the lovely. We become lovely to those who are lovely to us. In the same way, the false gospel depends on our becoming more lovely. If we don’t become lovely enough to at least put our trust in the love of the false Christ of the false gospel, then that love fails.
What good is a love for the unlovely which depends on them becoming lovely at some point? A love which CAN amount to nothing always DOES amount to nothing. We are unlovely sinners who cannot respond to initiatives. If we think we can do one lovely thing to respond, then we presume that God is wooing us. We think God is appealing to the part of us which God finds lovely. So then, no matter what we say, we don’t really believe that God loves the unlovely. We can’t believe it.
A divine love which CAN fail amounts to a meaningless nothing, because such a love disregards the cross and the death by which Christ paid for the sins of the elect alone. Many “Calvinists” think of election and definite redemption as two different things, because they think of love and propitiation for the elect as two different things.
Not so in the Scripture! John 10 does not say that the good Shepherd loves the goats so that they can become sheep if they respond. John 10:12 says that “he who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.”
Notice the antithesis. The good shepherd does not act like the hired man. The hired man’s love amounts to nothing. How do we know the Shepherd loves the sheep? “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Does this mean that the Shepherd dies as a representative of the sheep along with the sheep? No. The Shepherd is not only the leader, not only the first to die. The Shepherd dies as a substitute for the sheep. Because the Shepherd dies, the sheep do not die. John 10 does not separate Christ’s love and Christ’s death. Christ loves those for whom He dies. Christ dies for those He loves.
So what’s my point? Christ did not die for “us” if you think “us” means everybody.. John 10 makes this clear and simple. It does not say, “If you put your trust in and believe.” John 10:26, “But you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep hear my voice.” It’s NOT if you put your trust in me, then you will become my sheep.
Yes, many “Calvinists” reason, we also believe in election. We know that John 10:29 tells how “My Father has given them to me”. We just don’t we should talk about that when we are talking about Christ’s loving and dying. When we talk about Christ’s love, we stay with the “if you trust in Him”, and don’t get into the business of them not being able to trust if they are not elect. Christ knew who was not elect, but we don’t
I agree that we don’t know who is not elect. Just because a person does not now believe the true gospel does not mean that person never will believe. Any person who will one day believe the true gospel is already a sheep. Christ already loves them, and Christ already died for them. But we can say all that without leaving the door open for anybody (Lutheran or “Reformed”) who teach that Christ died for everybody. (or died “in some sense” for everybody, either to make an offer or to make punishment just or for whatever reason).
If we do not say that Christ died for the elect and not for the non-elect, those who climb in other ways will be saying (not only thinking) that it all depends on “if you trust In Him”. If we don’t talk about Christ’s death and election at the same time, we ourselves will be heard preaching a love that depends on the sinner to respond.
My main point is not the motives of the These “Calvinists”. Surely some of them are hired men who know they won’t be hired if they talk about Christ not dying for the non-elect. Others of them sincerely have essentially the same false gospel as the thieves who teach a universal death conditioned on a sinner’s faith.
My point is that Christ’s love amounts to everything! Christ’s love meant dying on the cross for those He loved, and that love is decisive. That love is not one factor among many. Christ’s love is not about making some people lovely. Christ’s love is about a death which propitiates the wrath of God against elect sinners for their sins. Because of God’s love for individuals elect in Christ, God imputed their sins to Christ.