“Turned Unto Fables”
2 Timothy 4:4
The prophecy made by the Apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4 has come to pass in our day. Throughout the world, religious people gather every week in solemn assemblies, in the name of Christ, to worship God. They read the Bible, say their prayers, invoke God’s blessing, and give their money. They are devoted. They are sincere. But they are lost! They have faith; but theirs is a false faith. They have hope; but their hope is a delusion. Having been led and taught by blind and ignorant men, “They will not endure sought doctrine; but after their own lusts...they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears...They turn away their ears from the truth and have been turned unto fables.”
A fable is a brief story, dreamed up by a man to teach a moral, ethical lesson; but factually it is a lie. Here are four common religious fables, dreamed up by men to teach moral principles. They are universally embraced, proclaimed, and defended. These four fables are presented throughout the world as the very truth of God. But they are lies, damning to the souls of all who believe them.
1. “God loves all people, without exception.” — That simply is not so. If God loved all, all would be saved. Nowhere does the Bible say or imply that he does. The proof text most commonly used to “prove” this assertion is John 3:16. But neither John 3:16 nor any other passage of Holy Scripture teaches that God’s love is universal. In the Word of God the word “world” seldom means everyone in the world, without exception, and the word “all” seldom means all without exception. Luke 2:1 and Romans 5:18-19 are two clear examples of this fact. The fact is the Word of God plainly tells us that God does not love everyone (Psalm 11:5; 7:11; Romans 9:13; Isaiah 43:1-5). “God is love.” We rejoice in that blessed revelation of grace. But God’s love is in Christ. The Scriptures never give assurance of God’s love to anyone apart from faith in Christ.
2. “God wills the salvation of all men.” — If God willed the salvation of all, he would save all. “What his soul desireth, even that he doeth” (Job 23:13). The proof text by which blaspheming will-worshippers attempt to prove that God wills the salvation of all is 2 Peter 3:9. — “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.” Peter here declares that the reason God has not yet destroyed this world is that he is not willing that any of his elect perish. Therefore, he is long suffering to “us ward” (his elect). We are assured of this in verse 15, where the Holy Spirit tells us plainly that, “the long suffering of our God is salvation.”
3. “The Lord Jesus Christ died to redeem and save all people.” — Nowhere does the Word of God teach, or in any way imply that. Christ laid down his life for and redeemed his sheep, his elect. Men attempt to prove that Christ died for all, those who perish in hell as well as those who are saved, by referring to four texts, which, we are told, prove universal redemption (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 2:1-2). But none of those passages (or any others) teach such blasphemy. The word “world” in John 3:16 obviously refers to God’s elect scattered throughout the world, Gentiles as well as Jews.
The words “every man” in Hebrews 2:9 should read simply “every,” referring to — every “son” he brings to glory (v. 10), every one “sanctified” by union with him (v. 11), — every one of his “brethren” (v. 12), — every child given to him by the Father (v. 13), — every one of Abraham’s seed (v. 16), and every one of “the people” for whom he accomplished reconciliation (v. 17). The word “bought” in 2 Peter 2:1 simply refers to the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ, by his obedience unto death, bought the right to rule over all flesh, even over his enemies, as the God-man Mediator (John 17:2-5). The passage has nothing to do with the accomplishment of redemption. As in John 3:16, in 1 John 2:1-2 the word “world” refers to the world of his elect, or his elect scattered throughout the whole world.
The Son of God did not shed his blood for every person in the world. He did not die for all without exception! The Bible nowhere teaches or implies that Christ died for, redeemed, or came to save those multitudes who are at last lost in hell. Those for whom Christ died shall never die! The Son of God redeemed all whom he came to redeem, and he shall save all whom he came to save.
4. “The Holy Spirit strives with all to persuade all to trust Christ.” — Nothing could be further from the truth. There are multitudes to whom the Spirit of God has never even sent his Word. The Bible says nothing of the Spirit trying to reprove, convince, or regenerate anyone. He does not try to do anything! He does what he will. — “It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing.” But those who wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction point to Genesis 6:3 as a proof text for the Holy Spirit’s impotence in grace. Let’s be honest with God’s Word. Every word, every phrase, every verse of Holy Scripture must be interpreted in its context, both its immediate context and the whole context of Divine Revelation. Genesis 6:3 says nothing about God’s saving operations, but speaks of Noah’s generation and the wrath of God upon that generation.
The whole religious world, to one degree or another, declares that salvation is accomplished by the will of man, the worth of man, and the work of man. But the Word of God declares that salvation is by the will of God alone, the worth of Christ alone, and the work of the Holy Spirit alone.
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