If TULIP and the Westminster Confession of Faith is true, and the idea that God chose who to save before the foundation of the world (choosing individuals to be either elect and able to believe in him, or non-elect and unable to believe in him), then the apostle Paul’s huge concern (and crying) for unbelievers is a huge mystery.
WCF: ch. III. By the decree of God, for the manifestation of His glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life; and others foreordained to everlasting death.
WCF: ch. V. Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory—
Why does Paul spend so much time praying and crying about the lost state of people’s souls, and why discussing and pleading with them – for hours at a time? Is it “because God told him to, and because Paul doesn’t know who the elect individuals are”? But that doesn’t solve the puzzle.
- God didn’t tell him to cry, did he? This seems to be something that Paul himself chose to do.
- What would be the reason for shedding tears? Doesn’t God’s will always happen? Will the elect not end up in heaven as God has planned, and will the non-elect not end up in hell according to his plans? If all things turn out according to plans, WHY CRY? Why trying to interfere?
- If the destination of all people is already settled (before the foundation of the world), why would Paul want to thwart God’s plans? Why trying to persuade non-elect to be elect? Is that even possible?
- Why does Paul preach “repent or perish”, as though he doesn’t know that the elect can’t perish, and the non-elect can’t repent?
- The L in TULIP means “Limited Atonement”, and that means that Jesus didn’t die for the non-elect, which means that they are not able to be saved and God doesn’t want them to be saved (or else he would arrange so that Jesus would have died for them too). Since it’s not possible to be saved without the blood of Jesus, why would Paul waste his time crying about people who God never intended to save in the first place? And why would he cry for the others – the elect? THEY ARE ALREADY SAVED! And they can never be lost.
- If Paul instead would save all his tears and only spend 5 minutes a month to evangelize, WHAT WOULD BE THE BIG DIFFERENCE?
- Why does Paul say: “how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Doesn’t he know that no one needs any preachers or to hear about Jesus Christ, since everyone has been selected for heaven or hell before the foundation of the world?
- If Paul desires more people than the elect to be saved, doesn’t this mean that Paul has a greater love for lost souls than God? Isn’t it also scary that many atheists would gladly give up their lives for the sake of their children, and that God wouldn’t do the same? Wouldn’t this indicate that many atheists have a greater love for people than God himself? “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13)
- Why putting so much effort into something that is a lost course from the start? If God chose people to be non-elect, why not leave it at that?
- Paul seems to have a huge desire to encourage non-elect to be elect, but he doesn’t have an equal desire to transform the elect into non-elect? Why even picking sides (one over the other) if God is the one who decides who to save and who to damn – not based on anything they have done? Isn’t God’s decision the wisest?
- Why does Paul try to change the “salvation ratio” that God has already decided upon? If God for instance has decided to save 30% of all people and damn 70%, why does Paul try to amend these numbers which were written in stone before the foundation of the world? Isn’t Paul pleased with the numbers that his Master so carefully has thought out?
- Wouldn’t Paul’s tears be the same as criticism towards God – who apparently doesn’t want to save as many people as Paul does?
In Acts 20, we can read about Paul preaching for many hours at a time, despite that nothing would change if he only spent 5 minutes. In fact, he spoke for such a long time that one fellow (Eutychus) fell down from a window and died – but Paul prayed for him and he returned back to life. In the same chapter we can read about Paul shedding many tears while he was serving the Lord, and Paul preached repentance and the need for faith toward Jesus Christ – both to jews and gentiles.
Acts. 20:16 For Paul had determined to sail by Ephesus, because he would not spend the time in Asia: for he hasted, if it were possible for him, to be at Jerusalem the day of Pentecost.17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.18 And when they were come to him, he said unto them, Ye know, from the first day that I came into Asia, after what manner I have been with you at all seasons,19 Serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and WITH MANY TEARS, and temptations, which befell me by the lying in wait of the Jews:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house,21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul continues to warn people, and ask them to take heed of themselves – as though things might not go according to God’s plans. He also tells them to take heed TO ALL THE FLOCK, which is the same as the church of God which Jesus has purchased with his blood. If the flock could never be lost, it wouldn’t make sense for Paul to warn people to take heed of the flock. Paul knows that not all of the flock of true christians will be spared, because he says that grievous wolves will enter in among them to draw away people, and there will also be false preachers among themselves. Since Paul knows how the devil works, and also how man works – how they “after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers” (2 Tim. 4:3), he also knows that some christians will be walking away from God. Therefore we can read that “BY THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS”. Paul seems to believe that his warnings and urgent prayers can make a huge difference and change the outcome of things! He doesn’t have the approach “I know that what I do or say won’t change a thing since everything is already written in stone, but I suppose I will pray a few times anyway since God – for some unknown reason – told me to do it”.
Acts. 20:26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men.27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock.30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.31 Therefore watch, and remember, that BY THE SPACE OF THREE YEARS I CEASED NOT TO WARN EVERY ONE NIGHT AND DAY WITH TEARS
2 Tim.4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
Paul gave the Corinthians advice concerning a certain man who had sinned and been punished. Each time we read a warning and “lest”, it means that the outcome depends on people’s actions. Paul knows that Satan might gain an advantage over us, unless we are obedient to God.
2 Cor. 2:4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you.5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all.6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many.7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow.8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.9 For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.10 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ;11 Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.
Paul has great concern about people who are enemies of the cross of Christ, and whose end is destruction! Why, if God has closed the door for them and refuses to open their eyes so that they can believe in him and walk in his ways? Maybe because their destination is NOT predestined, and maybe because TULIP is a false philosophy based on a gnostic foundation?
Phil. 3:17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even WEEPING, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. (NKJV)
Paul doesn’t make any sense at all in Romans 9 (if TULIP is true). Paul is talking about all jews (all of Israel), and he says he wishes that he was accursed and separated from God for their sake – if he could only see them saved. That’s a lot of unselfish love! Why, if God has already arranged the final destination for their souls, and has everything under control? Things couldn’t possibly go wrong, and Paul has no business showing so much love for people who are predestined for hell. Paul says that the right to be adopted as sons belongs to the Israelites (and not only to them), but this doesn’t mean they are automatically saved. Only those who have faith like Abraham, and who have a circumcised heart, will be saved.
Rom.9:1 I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, 2 that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, 4 who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, 5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen. (NASB)
Also many atheists would gladly give up their lives if they could only save their children (whether the children are good or bad), and our Lord wouldn’t do the same for the people of the world? Do atheists have a greater love for their children, than God has for the same children?
Jesus cried as well – doesn’t things go as planned?
It wouldn’t make sense for God to predestine things that made Jesus troubled. Jesus was affected by other people’s reactions, and thew news about his friend Lazarus.
John 11:32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.33 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled.
Prophets have been sent out to people by God throughout all ages, but these prophets have not always been treated nicely by others. Things don’t always turn out the way God wants, and that’s due to our free will.
Matt. 23:34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and YE WOULD NOT!
Certain women wept when they saw Jesus carrying his cross. Jesus was of course not angry that they wept for him, but he advised them to rather weep for themselves and for future generations, because difficult days would be coming. All that counts is the salvation of people’s souls, and not temporary blessings here on earth.
Luke 23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus.27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.28 But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.29 For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
It’s good to know that the Lord will lift us up, under the condition that we humble ourselves before him. If we choose to draw nigh to him, he will draw nigh to us.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Through the prophet Jeremiah, we learn that even God himself has much sorrow for those who refuse to hear him
He weeps when he sees his own flock being carried away:
Jeremiah 13:10 This evil people, which refuse to hear my words, which walk in the imagination of their heart, and walk after other gods, to serve them, and to worship them, shall even be as this girdle, which is good for nothing.11 For as the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave unto me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord; that they might be unto me for a people, and for a name, and for a praise, and for a glory: but they would not hear.—16 Give glory to the Lord your God, before he cause darkness, and before your feet stumble upon the dark mountains, and, while ye look for light, he turn it into the shadow of death, and make it gross darkness.17 But if ye will not hear it, MY SOUL SHALL WEEP in secret places for your pride; and MINE EYE SHALL WEEP SORE, AND RUN DOWN WITH TEARS, because the Lord’s flock is carried away captive.
Jeremiah 9:1 Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!2 Oh that I had in the wilderness a lodging place of wayfaring men; that I might leave my people, and go from them! for they be all adulterers, an assembly of treacherous men.3 And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord.—5 And they will deceive every one his neighbour, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.6 Thine habitation is in the midst of deceit; through deceit they refuse to know me, saith the Lord.7 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?8 Their tongue is as an arrow shot out; it speaketh deceit: one speaketh peaceably to his neighbour with his mouth, but in heart he layeth his wait.9 Shall I not visit them for these things? saith the Lord: shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?10 For the mountains will I take up a weeping and wailing, and for the habitations of the wilderness a lamentation, because they are burned up, so that none can pass through them; neither can men hear the voice of the cattle; both the fowl of the heavens and the beast are fled; they are gone.—13 And the Lord saith, Because they have forsaken my law which I set before them, and have not obeyed my voice, neither walked therein;14 But have walked after the imagination of their own heart, and after Baalim, which their fathers taught them:15 Therefore thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will feed them, even this people, with wormwood, and give them water of gall to drink.
Paul spent a lot of time reasoning, arguing and discussing with people
Day and night, month after month. For what reason? An hour each year would be enough, if God decided about our destinies before the foundation of the world.
Acts 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures,3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.
Acts 17:16 Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. 17Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him.
Acts 19:8 And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. 10And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
Acts. 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24 And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not.