December 21, 2007

A Striving Patience

This is a subtle but significant point. When listening to some self-described "Calvinists" today, one is left with the impression that God is merely patient with the unbelieving non-elect in the world because he is waiting to gather in all of his elect. The non-elect receive a "bare patience," as it were. It's as if God is merely putting up with them because of his singular interest in saving the elect (They even twist Romans 9:22-23 to support that viewpoint, without taking into consideration Romans 2:4 and Romans 10:21). On the contrary, notice what Charnock says:
"(2.) His patience is manifest in long delaying his threatened judgments, though he finds no repentance in the rebels. He doth sometimes delay his lighter punishments, because he doth not delight in torturing his creatures; but he doth longer delay his destroying punishments, such as put an end to men's happiness, and remit them to their final and unchangeable state; because he 'doth not delight in the death of a sinner'. While he is preparing his arrows, he is waiting for an occasion to lay them aside, and dull their points that he may with honour march back again, and disband his armies. He brings lighter smarts sooner, that men might not think him asleep, but he suspends the more terrible judgments, that men might be led to repentance. He scatters not his consuming fires at the first, but brings on ruining vengeance with a slow pace: 'Sentence against an evil work is not speedily executed,' Eccles. viii. 11. The Jews therefore say, that Michael, the minister of justice, flies with one wing, but Gabriel, the minister of mercy, with two. A hundred and twenty years did God wait upon the old world, and delay their punishment all the time 'the ark was preparing,' 1 Peter iii. 20; wherein that wicked generation did not enjoy only a bare patience, but a striving patience: Gen. vi. 3, 'My Spirit shall not always strive with man, yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years,' the days wherein I will strive with him; that his long-suffering might not lose all its fruit, and remit the objects of it into the hands of consuming justice."

Stephen Charnock, "On God's Patience" in The Existence and Attributes of God (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 2:491.

According to Charnock, the wicked generation in Noah's day received a "striving patience," in order that they might be led to repentance. The Holy Spirit was striving with them in order to have mercy upon them, even upon those that finally perished. He cites Genesis 6:3 to that effect.

This is the truth:

1) God wills the salvation of all (even the non-elect that perished), but He only efficaciously wills the salvation of the elect (Noah and his family).

And not this:

2) God only wills the salvation of the elect, so he merely puts up with ("bare patience") with the non-elect for a time until all the elect come safely to salvation.


Gracie said...

Hi Tony,

Just want to send you a holiday greetings. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

In His Grace,

Tony Byrne said...

Hi Gracie,

Thanks and same to you. I hope you have been well. Long time no hear :-)

I just heard Friday that I have to work Monday at UPS. What a bummer. I was looking forward to a four day weekend. As you can imagine, work has been very busy, so I haven't been blogging much.