“Some, who are willing enough to accept of God’s mercy through Christ in the forgiveness of their own trespasses and weaknesses under greater light and knowledge, cannot conceive of the same favor being applicable under the New Covenant to others; though they seem to admit the Apostle’s statement that Jesus Christ, by the favor of God, tasted death for every man. Some of these suggest that the Lord must, in this prophecy, be speaking ironically to the Jews, implying that he would just as willingly bring back the Sodomites as them, but had no intention of restoring either. But let us see how the succeeding verses agree with this idea. The Lord says, “Nevertheless, I will remember my covenant with thee in the days of thy youth, and I will establish unto thee an everlasting covenant. Then, thou shalt remember thy ways and be ashamed, when thou shalt receive thy sisters….And I will establish my covenant with thee, and thou shalt know that I am the Lord; that thou may remember and be confounded, and never open thy mouth anymore because of thy shame, when I am pacified toward thee for all that thou hast done, SAITH THE LORD GOD.”
When a promise is thus signed by the Great Jehovah, all who have set to their seal that God is true may rejoice in its certainty with confidence; especially those who realize that these New Covenant blessings have been confirmed of God in Christ, whose precious blood is to seal the covenant.
To this Paul adds his testimony, saying, “And so all Israel [living and dead] shall be saved [recovered from blindness], as it is written, ‘There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob. For this is my covenant unto them when I shall take away their sins.’… They are beloved for the fathers’ sakes; because the gracious gifts and callings of God are not things to be repented of.” Rom. 11:26-29
We need not wonder that Jews, Sodomites, Samaritans, and all mankind, will be ashamed and confounded when in his own “due time” God shows forth the riches of his favor. Yea, many of those who are now God’s children will be confounded and amazed when they see how God so loved THE WORLD, and how much his thoughts and plans were above their own.”
Christian people generally believe that God’s blessings are all and only for the selected Church, but now we begin to see that God’s plan is wider than we had supposed, and that though he has given the Church “exceeding great and precious promises,” he has also made bountiful provision for the world which he so loved as to redeem. The Jews made a very similar mistake in supposing that all the promises of God were to and for them alone; but when the “due time” came and the Gentiles were favored, the remnant of Israel, whose hearts were large enough to rejoice in this wider evidence of God’s grace, shared that increased favor, while the rest were blinded by prejudice and human tradition. Let those of the Church who now see the dawning light of the Millennial age, with its gracious advantages for all the world, take heed lest they be found in opposition to the advancing light, and so for a time be blinded to its glory and blessings.
How different is this glorious plan of God for the selection of a few now, in order to the blessing of the many hereafter, from the distortions of these truths, as represented by the two opposing views–Calvinism and Arminianism. The former both denies the Bible doctrine of Free Grace and miserably distorts the glorious doctrine of Election; the latter denies the doctrine of Election and fails to comprehend the blessed fullness of God’s Free Grace.
Calvinism says: God is all-wise; he knew the end from the beginning; and as all his purposes shall be accomplished, he never could have intended to save any but a few, the Church. These he elected and foreordained to be eternally saved; all others were equally foreordained and elected to go to eternal torment; for “Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.” This view has its good features. It recognizes God’s omniscience. This would be our ideal of a great God, were it not that two essential qualities of greatness are lacking, namely, love and justice, neither of which is exemplified in bringing into the world one hundred and forty-nine billions of creatures doomed to eternal torture before they were born, and mocked with protestations of his love. Since God is love, and justice is the foundation of his throne, such cannot be his character.
Armenians say: Yes, God is love; and in bringing humanity into the world he meant them no harm–only good. But Satan succeeded in tempting the first pair, and thus sin entered into the world and death by sin. And ever since, God has been doing all he can to deliver man from his enemy, even to the giving of his Son. And though now, six thousand years after, the gospel has reached only a very small proportion of mankind, yet we do hope and trust that within another six thousand years, through the energy and liberality of the church, God will so far have remedied the evil introduced by Satan that all then living may at least know of his love, and have an opportunity to believe and be saved.
While this view presents God as a being full of loving and benevolent designs for his creatures, it implies that he lacks ability and foreknowledge adequate to the accomplishment of his benevolent designs: that he is deficient in wisdom and power. From this view it would appear that while God was engaged in arranging and devising for the good of his newly-created children, Satan slipped in and by one master-stroke upset all God’s plans to such an extent that, even by exhausting all his power, God must spend twelve thousand years to reinstate righteousness, even to such a degree that the remainder of the race who still live will have an opportunity to choose good as readily as evil. But the one hundred and forty-nine billions of the past six thousand years, and as many more of the next, are, according to this view, lost to all eternity, in spite of God’s love for them, because Satan interfered with his plans. Thus Satan would get thousands into eternal torment to one that God saves to glory.
This view must exalt men’s ideas of the wisdom and power of Satan, and lower their estimation of these attributes in God, of whom the Psalmist to the contrary declares that, “He spoke and it was done; he commanded and it stood fast.” But no: God was not surprised nor overtaken by the adversary; neither has Satan in any measure thwarted his plans. God is, and always has been, perfect master of the situation, and in the end it will be seen that all has been working together to the accomplishment of his purposes.
While the doctrines of election and free grace, as taught by Calvinism and Arminianism, could never be harmonized with each other, with reason, or with the Bible, yet these two glorious Bible doctrines are perfectly harmonious and beautiful, seen from the standpoint of the plan of the ages.
Seeing, then, that so many of the great and glorious features of God’s plan for human salvation from sin and death lie in the future, and that the second advent of our Lord Jesus is the designed first step in the accomplishment of those long promised and long expected blessings, shall we not even more earnestly long for the time of his second advent than the less informed Jew looked and longed for his first advent? Seeing that the time of evil, injustice and death is to be brought to an end by the dominion of power which he will then exercise, and that righteousness, truth and peace are to be universal, who should not rejoice to see his day? And who that is now suffering with Christ, inspired by the precious promise that “if we suffer with him we shall also reign with him,” will not lift up his head and rejoice at any evidence of the approach of the Master, knowing thereby that our deliverance and our glorification with him draw nigh? Surely all in sympathy with his mission of blessing and his spirit of love will hail every evidence of his coming as the approach of the “great joy which shall be to all people.” (A112-116)