Many who study the Bible look at it as a book full of proof texts by which they can support various doctrines and teachings which appeal to their religious bent or way of thinking. By using this method practically anything can be proven; especially when the rest of the scriptures are ignored as if they did not exist.
It is quite common to find those who pay lip service to believing in Divine election since one can hardly completely ignore the subject in view of the fact that the words chose, chosen, elect, and election relating to GOD's differentiation between people, appears in the scriptures at least 39 times. Yet relatively few will embrace the companion doctrine of reprobation which says that GOD has not only elected some to salvation, but HE has hardened the hearts of others who are not the elect. In order to fight against this doctrine, those who hate GOD's sovereign grace will usually roll out what they think is the ultimate weapon against this doctrine, or the Atomic Bombs of scripture so to speak.
By nature men innately oppose the absolute Sovereignty of GOD. There is no more abrasive doctrine in their eyes. When Paul taught this doctrine in the ninth chapter of Romans (which by the way many seem to have torn out of the Bible) he knew exactly what the opposition was that the natural man has against GOD. "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honor, and another unto dishonor? What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory." (Rom 9:20-23)
Those who would roll out these supposed weapons of mass destruction are generally willing to believe anything but the fact that GOD is the decider of man's destiny. "Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." (Rom 9:18) could not possibly be correct according to them. They don't mind HIM being in charge of the weather, the planets, or even the outcome of the lottery or the football game but oh no HE can't be in charge of the destiny of men. That's un-American, its not what grandma believed, its (gasp) unfair. We are supposed to believe that it would be much better if GOD had chosen to save none and left the choice up to us. Yet the LORD plainly said, "no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father." (John 6:65) "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." (Rom 3:11) "And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life." (John 5:40)
So, the natural man is willing to "strain at a gnat and swallow a camel" by rolling these verses out to (according to their "understanding"(?) overturn the only hope that any of them would ever have of being saved. If the LORD has chosen none to be saved then I am quite sure that none will ever be saved. Which one of you can stir up himself to lay hold upon the LORD? Must we ignore what HE said in John 6:40, "No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day."
In order to correctly understand any passage of scripture we must have four things;
- The leadership of the HOLY GHOST. (see John 16;13)
- An accurate copy of the scriptures. (see Rev.22:18,19)
- A willingness to receive HIS truth. (see James 1:21; Job 13:15)
- An understanding of the context of the passage as it relates to the whole of scripture (see II Peter I: 21, 22)
Both of these supposed "Atomic Bombs" are quite easily understood when taken in the context of the whole passage of scripture in which they are given. Rather than overturning the doctrine of GOD's absolute sovereignty in the dispensing of HIS mercy these scriptures are bold in their defense of it when not misapplied.
In I Timothy 2:1-6 Paul gives instruction to Timothy that prayer should be made for "all" men. Now it is necessary that we understand who "all men" are. If he means "all men, individually and without exception" then it would be necessary to remove 1 John 5:16 from the bible because the LORD specifically said there are some not to be prayed for. Nor should we pray for those who are already dead nor give thanks for those who are false teachers, etc. Clearly the all is limited by the context in which it is given to all types and ranks of men, those in authority as well as those who are not. The LORD never instructed HIS disciples to be instigators of insurrection nor the overthrow of political systems, rather we are to pray for those in places of authority that we might be able to lead lives of quietness, peace, and worship.
When we clearly understand "all" in its proper context then we can see that the absolute purpose of GOD is to save men from all walks of life. Under an oppressive earthly regime (the Romans) like the early church was, we can see Paul's wisdom in reminding them that the LORD's hand is not shortened in any wise because it is HIS purpose to save men of every nation. Cornelius and the Ethiopian eunuch are good examples. GOD will save all of those whom HE intends to save. Not one more and not one less.
He goes on to say that CHRIST gave HIMSELF a "ransom for all, to be testified in due time." If this meant that HE died to purchase everyone then it would have to follow that such would ultimately be manifested. If that were true, then there would be no separation of the sheep and the goats on the day of judgement. So clearly the "all" includes only those who shall ultimately be displayed as the trophies of HIS grace. (see Isa.53:11)
In I Peter 3:9 the whole verse reads "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2Pet 3:9) Those who drop the Atomic Bombs usually conveniently leave the bold portion of that verse out. When it is included it is quite clear that there is a word "us-ward" that defines who it is that the LORD is not willing should perish. HE loves HIS elect people (us of us-ward) so much that HE is not willing that any of them should perish but shall bring all of them to repentance. None of HIS elect will be abandoned to die in a state of unrepentant darkness but HE will in mercy call each one according to HIS purpose. It is not possible that one should perish for whom CHRIST shed HIS precious blood. "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?" (Rom 8:29-35)mam