Calvinism: Does God love ALL mankind?
I know for some that will look like a foolish question, and I completely understand that. But there are people, even many pastors of today, who’ve bought into a line of thinking called Calvinism that says God only loves some people, namely, those they call “the elect,” that being only those He has predetermined to save. All I can say is let’s look at the Scriptures. But these people would claim that what they believe is in the Scriptures. So, as with anything else we study from the Scriptures, you’ll have to look at the data and decide for yourself. But I do hope you’ll examine this thoroughly.
To me, a simple but very important passage that speaks to this question is one of the apostle Paul’s.
1 Timothy 2:3-4
3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;
4 Who will have [THELO = desires] all men [without exception] to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [Emphasis added]
It is because of His desire for this that He sent us all a Savior who did what He did through His cross, burial, and resurrection.
2 Corinthians 5:18-21
18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us [believers] to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us [believers] the ministry of reconciliation;
19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world [all mankind] unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word [or message] of reconciliation.
Here we see that all the world’s sins were not imputed to us, but they were charged to Christ, providing a way for the complete reconciliation of all. All that’s needed for this complete reconciliation is the application of faith from any individual. It is this that is our message as Christ’s ambassadors [or representatives] for the entire world of mankind.
20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.
21 For he [God the Father] hath made him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us [all mankind], who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]
And even though this means potentially anyone can be saved, we find that few are. Such has always been the case. Here’s one passage that speaks of that.
13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:
14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. [Emphasis added]
Again, what could be clearer! The only ones who are not saved are those who have not received God’s gracious and loving provision for their salvation.
2 Thessalonians 2:10
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [Emphasis added]
The basic reason some people are not saved is because they choose not to be. God certainly didn’t have to, but because of His love for all He sent a Savior so that all mankind could be saved. Not even one person anywhere was left out.
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. [Emphasis added]
Even this well-known verse and the verses that follow speak of all this.
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
We don’t need to redefine “whosoever” as some do. God loves all, not just “the chosen” as Calvinism likes to describe it. This makes it possible for anyone to be saved.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world [all mankind] through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. [Emphasis added]
Jesus Christ did His work to provide a way of salvation for those who choose to believe in Him, as well as for those who don’t. It was at the cross that Christ satisfied the justice of God for all with His sacrificial death.
I John 2:2
2 And he is the propitiation [the means to satisfying God’s just demands] for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [Emphasis added]
This isn’t just talking about the world of believers, but unbelievers as well. The facts of what happened at the cross and what it makes available for all is plain. The only reason someone would not believe these things is because they don’t want to believe them. But God’s grace is offered to all! The love of God that was expressed at the cross is the example God has given us as the way we are to treat all others.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. [Emphasis added]
From start to finish the work of the cross was an expression of God’s love which extends to all.
I Corinthians 13:4-5
4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,
5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
This just tells us that God is selflessly all-loving, wanting all without distinction and without exception to be saved through the one Savior He has provided—Jesus Christ.
While some Calvinists deny that God loves everyone, more commonly Calvinists attempt to affirm the love of God for all persons in terms that are compatible with their doctrines that Christ died only for the elect, namely, those persons God has unconditionally chosen to save. God tells us throughout the Bible that He welcomes everyone who comes to Him. Jesus extends His acceptance and His kindness to all. Notice His attitude toward people in the time of His earthly ministry.
28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest [ANAPAUO = to give rest, intermission from labor]. [Emphasis added]
What peace of mind it provides when we realize that God loves all, and that salvation comes to anyone by grace through faith alone! It is such love that serves to motivate believers to love Him.
I John 4:19
19 We love him, because he first loved us. [Emphasis added]
I understand completely that there are those who believe God’s love is limited to a few. I also know it is relatively easy to find passages that seem to support such a view. All that I ask is that you examine this and every doctrine as objectively as you can. Only then are you going to have the confidence you need about these things for yourself and for those you may seek to reach with God’s Word.