I woke up early today (6 AM) and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to start the day early. Part of that early start was some devotional reading though 2 Thessalonians. Very interesting letter, to be sure.
One interesting part is that Paul boldly asserts what many Christians simply do not believe: “God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth. To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess 2:13-14). Both classical Arminianism and historic Semi-Pelagianism (in different ways) assert that God chooses us because we choose him. Paul (as we shall see, contrasting the believers with the ungodly Gospel deniers of Thessaloniki) artlessly asserts that God chose the Thessalonian Christians. At this point, I pause to wait for all the yeahbuts…
Yeahbuts aside, another passage (immediately prior to the one in which Paul asserts that God chose the Thessalonians Christians because the chose him) is the one I want to highlight for my reading public. There were Thessalonian citizens who denied the Gospel, who refused to love the truth and so be saved. Of those folks, Paul says: “Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (2 Thess 2:11-12). These folks rejected the Gospel, didn’t love the truth, and were pleased to sin. I don’t want to make light of that rejection of the Gospel, for it is a sin. But here’s my question (LISTEN UP, NOW): If God wants everyone to be saved, if God wants every single individual human to be saved, they why did he send them a strong delusion?
That’s a very serious question. It needs an answer that makes sense.
Now, if God really, really, really wants every single individual to be save, he would NEVER send a spirit of delusion, so that they may believe what is false, unto their condemnation. That’s like me wanting my 1-year-old to walk, but tripping him every time he tries to stand up. Now, it’s NO answer to say that this is judgment upon their unbelief. Of course it is! They denied the Savior when He was preached to them. Did God, then, STOP wanting them to be saved?! That’s not possible, not if God *really* wants everyone to be saved.
Personally, I have presented the Gospel to folks who have totally rejected it. It’s incumbent upon me to continue to present it to them and to pray for their salvation. I keep after them until there is no more hope; I keep after them until they are dead. God, however, has sent these folks unbelieving Thessalonians a strong delusion, to the end that or with the purpose that (hina) they might be damned. What gives?
Historic Augustianism explains this. I’m looking for an Arminian or a Semi-Pelagian (I don’t even want to hear from Pelagians) to give an explanation. Why, if God wants every single individual human being to be saved, did He send a spirit of delusion to the Thessalonians who rejected the Gospel, so that they should believe a lie, so that they should be damned?