Monday, January 7, 2013

Sovereign Saving!

Some Thoughts About Genesis 19:16


Pastor Stephen Feinstein

In my daily Bible reading today, I came across something that caught my attention in Genesis 19:16. The context is the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the angels had already told Lot to hurry up and get out of there. Yet, he hesitated. So now in verse 16 the angels snatch him by force and pull him out of the city before it is destroyed. Look closely how verse 16 describes this: 

"But he hesitated. So the men seized his hand and the hand of his wife and the hands of his two daughters, for the compassion of the LORD was upon him; and they brought him out, and put him outside the city." 

God told this man of the upcoming disaster, yet the man's own choice was to hesitate. God overrode this man's "free choice" in order to physically save him and his family. And God's own Word states clearly that this was because "the compassion of the LORD was upon him." In other words, God saving a man against his own will was compassionate on the part of God. 

Let me now apply this to a much larger issue. Lot was saved physically, and we see God's action as compassionate. Yet, when we apply this same exact principle to the salvation of someone's soul, many people get up at arms. They say, "How dare God override someone's free will! Love demands a choice!" So wait a minute! It is acceptable for God to override someone's will to save their fleeting physical life, and yet it is somehow wrong for God to do so when it comes to a far more important matter, such as someone's eternal life? Perish the thought. Any good ancient rabbi would use the lesser to greater argument to say if God is willing to do such a thing for something of less value, then how much more so would He do this for something of greater value. 

And so my point in this whole post is that we consistently see God saving those He chooses all throughout the Scriptures. We see Him do this apart from their "free will," and the Bible describes this as compassionate. All throughout the New Testament, we have scripture after scripture that states this is how salvation works as well (e.g. John 6:44, 65; Romans 9; Ephesians 2:1-10; and many others). We were dead in our sins (Ephesians 2:1), corrupt in our nature (Ecclesiastes 7:20), and unable to please God (Romans 8:5-9). Yet, God in His love regenerated us (Titus 3:5), gave us grace and faith as a gift (Ephesians 2:8), and then justified us by that faith (Romans 3:28). And all of this was against our natural and sinful will. Praise God for His mercy and grace! May all Christians everywhere agree with God! May they agree with Him that His method of saving sinners is compassionate. May they not blaspheme God by saying that He is not permitted to save our souls in the same manner that He saved Lot's life. 

Feel free to share this with anyone you know of who struggles with the doctrines of grace. Perhaps this well help. God bless.


  1. Excellent words, Pastor Steve.
    -Josh (lil fytr) W

  2. OK, so...

    If God saves people against their will

    If all people are sinners, saved and unsaved alike

    If god saving people against their will is a compassionate thing

    And if God is infinitely compassionate

    Why does not God save everyone against their will?

  3. still censoring comments that point out the flaws in your arguments?
    For reference, you calling overriding free will in order to save people "an act of compassion" means either
    - God could be more compassion by saving more people (ie God is not perfect)
    - There are no more atheists on earth since God, being perfectly compassionate, overrode everyone's free will and critical thinking in order to save them (false, I'm an atheist, therefore at least one exists)
    - God's compassion is absolute, we are all saved (including the unbelievers), Hell is empty and belief in God is unnecessary. That's the most palatable of your options, but it makes what you are selling ("expertise" on God) worthless.

    You see, the "love demands a choice" argument is built specifically as an ad hoc justification for the fact that a compassionate God would not let people damn themselves to Hell if He could prevent it (and, being omnipotent, God could prevent it). Therefore theologians came up with this excuse to plaster over the problem. If you demolish it, then you need to deal with the problem you've just uncovered again.

    Of course, a simpler and better explanation is that there is no God, the bible is an incoherent mess written by many scientifically illiterate authors thousands of years ago, trying to come up with philosophical answers to philosophical problems, regardless of the real world.

    Myself, I don't see any evidence of a soul that needs to be saved, nor of a god doing (or not doing) the saving, and I find the idea of a god making the rules damning people, the people incapable of behaving in a not-damnable way, and the saving people from his own set of rules, all the way knowing what He is doing, childish and laughable.

    1. French Engineer,

      I suppose I should be happy that an atheist has taken the time to read a Christian blog, but at the same time your assessment of Christianity is lacking. The bottom line is that God is not on trial, but you are. Let me explain how so. First, you are but a small man (as am I) with a 3 pound brain, limited knowledge, and limited experience. You know nothing exhaustively. In fact, you never will know anything exhaustively. If you were to learn everything there is to know about a single square inch of earth, you would have to know every detail about it to the sub-atomic level, every detail of all that is directly above it (such as atmosphere) and how it interacts with it, and you would have to know this about the square inch for all history and the future. The truth be told, as a limited man, you cannot even know a half of a percent of everything about a single square inch of earth, and yet you are going to act like you can definitively declare that God does not exist?

      I am making an epistemological point for you to consider. God by definition is omniscient, meaning He does have exhaustive knowledge of everything that exists and that could possibly exist. You are not in a position with your infinitesimal amount of knowledge to say that God did something wrong here. Yet, you are convinced that you are right. How arrogant, and ultimately how foolish! You can't even tell me about a square inch of earth, but you can tell me that God doesn't exist? This is the problem that your position has. You assume that you have autonomy over knowledge and that you can indeed learn and know things, but you could never account for it or even justify it. Yet, so blindly and ignorantly, you march on thinking that your "knowledge" is justified. Yet, what happens when three weeks later, a new discovery completely overturns what you were so sure you knew? Do you go back to the drawing board and admit your epistemological hopelessness, or do you act like your knowledge is still intact? Atheists hardly ever consider these options.

    2. So sir, you are the one on trial. Can you justify what you know? Can you even justify your opinion that God is wrong in the choices He makes? In order to do that, you would have to be able to appeal to system of morals and ethics that is objective and universal. Otherwise, there is no moral truth. Yet, how can an atheist like you say that anything is right or wrong? Will you appeal to the culture? Will you appeal to utilitarianism? Will you appeal to Deontological ethics? Do you even know what these mean? So here you are writing into my blog declaring something to be "wrong" morally with what is being said, but then you yourself cannot account for morality in the first place. In your evolutionary fairy tale, you have no reason to declare the Holocaust as wrong, murder as wrong, love as right, or anything else. All you have is a bunch of animals running around reproducing, killing each other to where only the strong survive, and passing on good genes to the next generation. Never mind the proven genetic entropy (which totally kills your belief) or the MILLIONS of other reasons why macroevolution is a joke.

      The bottom line is you wrote in declaring my position is wrong (yet you cannot justify your own knowledge due to your finitude), and you declared God is morally deficient (even though you cannot justify any moral code by which to make that assessment). This is why I say you are on trial, not God. First go back to the drawing board and figure out with your inept system of atheistic philosophy how you can even justify the words that you typed, and then we can begin to have an intelligent discussion. However, if you try to justify your knowledge and moral code, you will realize that your own presuppositions will not allow you to do so. So if you were honest, you would simply fade away and act like this discussion never happened, because after all, you would realize that you have lost the argument before you ever even started it.

      With that out of the way, let me show you just how flawed your syllogistic reasoning is. You committed the fallacy of false dilemma by saying that "if God is infinitely compassionate" and "saving people against their will is compassionate," therefore "everyone should be saved." That is no different than the problem of evil syllogism. To remove the logical problem, one only needs to add another premise, "God has a morally right reason for choosing to save some and choosing to condemn others." Your problem is you demand to know His morally good reason, and you then think it is your right to judge His reason by your arbitrary standard (something that you could not epistemologically justify). All fallen humans do the very same thing. God not telling you His reason does not somehow make this whole situation logical inconsistent. You would be thinking far too highly of your very finite self if you tried to argue such.

    3. All humans are sinners. God has a perfect moral standard that is in accordance with His nature (He did not invent a code, but instead He gave the law that agreed with His nature). Lying is wrong because it is against God's nature to lie. Well, you have probably lied a dozen times this week already. You probably at some point in your life downloaded music you didn't pay for, which is thievery. You probably have lusted this very day over someone that is not your spouse or is someone else's spouse, which is adultery of the heart. You probably have used God's name as a cuss word, which is blasphemy. That is not even 5 of the Ten Commandments, but your own heart knows you are a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. And yet you think your soul does not need saving? Because God is perfect and just, and because you are a cosmic criminal, you deserve to be judged. You have earned it. All humans have earned it. God is compassionate, but He is also just. Humans have the same attributes, but to a finite degree. Sometimes society chooses to pity people (social welfare), and other times it chooses to hold people accountable to justice (prisons). We are not inconsistent in doing so. Crime requires justice. You are a criminal. Your soul does need saving, just as mine did. God being just cannot overlook sin and blindly forgive, so He paid the fine for everyone who would believe on Him. He then grants faith to those who will believe. The choice is His. He does not have to save anyone, for all have sinned and have fallen short of his glory. I plead with you to drop your hopeless and unjustifiable atheism (it really is the weakest philosophical position of all that are on the market) and turn to the God who saves sinners in His compassion. For if you truly seek Him and want to believe, He will not turn you away, for He will have began a work in your heart that will pay dividends for all eternity.

      If instead you continue to choose to be your own sovereign as you already attempt to do, then in your blind suppression of the truth, you will continue thinking (rather foolishly) that you are justified in unbelief. However, you do not have forever to figure this out.

      Have a good day.

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. French Engineer,

    If you are going to respond, make sure you avoid profanity. Your response, which I chose not to post due to profanity, was weak, and if you really believe Glasser won that debate, then we really have two different standards. He did not answer any of my points, and yet I answered all of his. Even the atheist who organized that debate declared me the victor.

    I did answer your initial argument with the added premise. Your logical argument disappears by the addition. Basic logic 101 should help you discern that. If you are not trained for debate, go bark up a tree with an opponent that is a novice.

    Perhaps one day you will take my challenge and think about your presuppositions and see if they are even possible. Of course, that requires honesty, something that your worldview does not require. By the way, I read portions of that post-debate discussion. I will admit that the author would have been a much better challenge than Glasser. Too bad I didn't debate him. Unfortunately, time is not an easy commodity for me.

    I figure you have better things to do with your time than ignorantly rant and cuss on my blog. Have a nice day.