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In chapters 2 and 3, the Lord’s apostle gives attention to what should be done in a “church setting” (3:14-15). Thus, what Paul writes is from God, not something generated by him simply because of the culture in which he lived at the time (cf. 1 Cor. 14:37). The importance of this will be seen as we progress.

In a “church setting” or when the saints gather to worship, let prayer be offered to the Lord for those in positions of responsibility (2:1-2). This is not simply a cultural matter, but always appropriate regardless of a cultural context. The reason to do this is stated: that we may live in peace, according to godliness. In this setting, the Lord’s influences go far.

The influences of the Lord are to go far and wide because the Lord does not want any to perish, but for all to come to a penitent heart (2:3-4). The importance of this point, among other reasons, shows that the religious doctrine associated with Calvin can’t be more wrong than that which originates with God’s great adversary. The doctrines I have in mind are “unconditional election” and “limited atonement.” Both are deadly.

I will explain.

Unconditional election is directly tied to the doctrine of limited atonement. “The doctrine of election declares that God, before the foundation of the world, chose certain individuals from among the fallen members of Adam’s race to be the objects of His undeserved favor” (Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented; p. 27).

Why is this so deadly? The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to you-ward, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9, ASV). These two statements are opposed one to another. Just in case you may not see it, notice the quote from the book on Calvinism. God chose certain individuals, in other words, He chose a select number of people (a number only He knows) apart from the will of those chosen being involved (“He chose to save some and to exclude others.” This was not based on any foreseen decisions or responses they would make; p. 27).

Clearly, from the perspective of Calvinism, God only desired SOME to be saved and come to repentance. The Holy Spirit said God desires ALL to come to repentance. The two are directly opposed to one another. Which one is the right doctrine?