Who is Ruling the World?
WHO IS RULING THE WORLD?
WHY DO PEOPLE SUFFER?
“Why is there suffering?” This is an age-old question that can be simply answered – We suffer because of the sin that is in the world and our authority to choose – freewill.
There are 3 philosophies people believe but only one is right:
- Satan is ruling the world.
- Mankind is ruling the world.
- God is ruling the world.
Let’s take a look at each:
1.SATAN IS RULING THE WORLD
Some base this statement on the fact that Satan is the Prince of the world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) and He is the Prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2) therefore He is ruling the world.
In Response: If Satan had his way, all would be lying as Satan is the Father of lies (John 8:44). Also, if Satan had his way, he would have destroyed everyone years ago, as he has come to kill, steal and destroy (John 10:10). It is true that he influences many as he is the deceiver and thereby influencing the world through them.
The Prince of the world is not the king of the world, therefore he does not have complete authority. Only the king(s) of the world have superior authority. Mankind has dominion and authority over everything that moves on the earth (Genesis 1:28). Therefore, Satan must work through them, through their sins (1 John 3:8). The Prince of the power of the air refers to his influential powers in the unseen to influence thought (Ephesians 6:12; Luke 8:12; 2 Corinthians 11:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 1 Peter 5:8).
2.MANKIND IS RULING THE WORLD
If you think Mankind is ruling, then are you making yourself God? Certainly not, God will hold us accountable for those choices and judge us accordingly. God is the Owner of the earth, not man. But God has made mankind ruler over the earth and ignoring this responsibility is basically separating themselves from God’s design (Genesis 1:28). He has made us ruler, so rule effectively, glorifying His name.
Who is ultimately responsible for the decisions to rape, murder, molest, etc. and will be judged accordingly? Mankind is responsible for their sin, not God or the Devil. Who is responsible to keep God’s word? Mankind (Deuteronomy 30:19-20). Who is responsible to accept God’s plan? Mankind. Yeshua said, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). Who is responsible to petition God and petition that God’s will is done on earth? Mankind (Matthew 6:10) because mankind is responsible.
Did God give mankind authority to rule the world? Yes. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth” (Gen. 1:26-28). David said to the LORD, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him? For You have made him lack a little from God, and have crowned him with glory and honor. You made him rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet: all sheep and oxen, yes, and the beasts of the field; the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, and all that pass through the paths of the seas” (Psalms 8:5-8). And a psalmist said, “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD's; but the earth He has given to the children of men” (Psalms 115:16). God has not and will not violate the command that went out of His mouth (Psalms 138:2; Numbers 23:19). Just like God could have stopped Adam and Eve (the woman) from eating of the forbidden fruit, but He didn’t because He gave them the ability to choose.
Christ had to come to earth and become a man. If He hadn’t then He couldn’t have authority on the earth (Matt. 28:18). Today Yeshua is still in a human body, yes resurrected and glorified, but still in a human body. Therefore, He has the authority to make intercession for those on earth as High Priest (Hebrews 4:14; Romans 8:34). When Jesus was on earth, even though He was the Son of God, He only exercised His authority as the Son of Man. “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man” (John 5:26-27).
Freewill was God’s Idea from the very beginning, it is the ultimate expression of love. He implemented it and works through it.
3. GOD IS RULING THE WORLD
Same base this statement on the fact that God created all things (Genesis 1-2) and therefore if He created all things, He is ruling.
In Response: God has created all physical and spiritual laws (Colossians 1:16-19), including establishing who rules what. He has given mankind the responsibility to rule over the earth (Genesis 1:28; Psalms 115:16). And provided the parameters in which to operate (Acts 17:25-27). Since Adam, mankind in general has not submitted completely to God for all have sinned (Romans 3:23). Therefore, he who is a friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:4), proving that God is not ruling the world. If He was then a friend of the world is a friend of God. God loves the world and planned to bring mankind back to Him through Yeshua (John 3:16)
Besides the fact that the position of God ruling the world is incorrect, the biggest issue is that it removes the individual’s responsibility and negates the power given through Christ to the believer. If one takes the individual responsibility of the believer away and then blinds them to the power Christ has given them – what is left to impact the world? How will the world be salted? How will they shine in the dark world?
WHY THEN DO SO MANY (CALVINISTS), HOLD TO THIS DOCTRINE THAT GOD IS RULING THE WORLD?
They struggle to get their mind around the fact that if God knows the future, has a plan and created all things, how do people truly have freewill when it seems to be predetermined. Like the owner of a company giving a man the access, authority, parameters, assistance and responsibility to run the company. Then the lazy man turns around and says to the Owner, “It is your company, you know the outcome, nothing I can do can be compared to you. If you want me to do anything then force me, move me, change me until then I will discuss your parameters and outcomes to others. I won’t discuss my responsibility, authority and access because it is not mine but yours.” Not only is the man disobedient but lazy like the man who hid his talent in the earth (Matthew 25:14-30).
BASED ON THE FOLLOWING CONCEPTS
Can God do anything because He wants to!
Not true according to God! There are parameters He has set that He will not cross Himself, He keeps His word! (Numbers 23:19). And you see this play out in scripture.
In Ezekiel 22, God, in His mercy, wanted to help a group of people who had broken His laws. And because they broke the laws they were going to receive the consequences of destruction from Him. God was seeking someone to stand in the gap for them, in other words, seeking a righteous person to use their authority that He has given them to petition Him to save those people. God couldn’t just stop the events taking place because He would be violating His word. Even though God personally wanted to stop the situation, He couldn’t. Even though He looked for an alternative option, He couldn’t find anyone amongst them who would intercede for them. Therefore, against God’s will, He had to destroy them according to His word. As the scripture says, “Thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name” (Psalms 138:2). God said, “So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. Therefore, I have poured out My indignation on them; I have consumed them with the fire of My wrath; and I have recompensed their deeds on their own head” (Ezekiel 22:30-31).
In Amos 3:7 there is a resounding statement, “Surely, the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). In context to those things He is bringing on the earth because of sin. He revealed Yeshua as the Messiah many times before Yeshua came (Deuteronomy 18:18-19).
People have actually limited God’s work in their life and in the world like Asaph said, “Yes, again and again they tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel” (Psalms 78:41).
Yeshua said that they have the made the word of God of no effect by their traditions (Mark 7:13). Did you ever think something could make the Word of God powerless, no effect in a person’s life? Tradition can do that.
Yeshua who is God on earth (1 Timothy 3:16) couldn’t do many mighty works in His own home town because of their unbelief (Matthew 13:58). Not God’s unbelief but theirs.
No one can resist God’s influence to save someone!
Not true, just like God’s word can have no effect in a person’s life because of unbelief (Matthew 13:58) and tradition (Mark 7:13) even so with Salvation. Adam initially had no sin and walked with God, yet rejected God’s word. Israel who received the commandments and had God’s help, rejected God’s word. Both received the consequences, but it wasn’t God’s desire that they turn away. A believer named Stephen told the Pharisees, “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you” (Acts 7:51). The word “always resist” is a plural ongoing, meaning they “continually reject” the Holy Spirit’s influence in their life.
Once Saved Always Saved!
Is it possible to accept Jesus Christ as your LORD and later turn from Him? Yes. Another way of saying this is: once saved always saved? No. It is true that even though a person is in the Book of Life there is a potential for them to be blotted out too (Revelation 3:5). It is true that no one, no situation and no thing can separate us from the love of God in Yeshua the Messiah (Romans 8:35-39), except:
Personal Choice - No one can take a believer out of God’s hand except that the believer themselves wants to leave - called choice/freewill. Peter addresses these believers who do such things, “For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2:22). Therefore, a believer can walk away from God, their choice.
Denies Yeshua – “Whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33).
Lives in Unforgiveness – “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15)
Living a lawless lifestyle – Some have Yeshua as Savior but not as their Lord (John 14:24; Luke 6:46). “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:22-23). “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
Believers consciously hurting other Believers - “But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken; The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers” (Luke 12:45-46; Matthew 24:44-51).
Complacent, worldly focus – A friend of the world is an enemy of God (James 4:7). An enemy of God doesn’t remain in the Kingdom of God. Yeshua said to believers, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth…” (Revelation 3:15-16). Yeshua speaking to the foolish virgins (foolish believers) who came to Him saying, “Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:11-13).
There are more than the six things highlighted in the scripture where believers, who are in the Kingdom of God, can be kicked out. Believers are betrothed to God, they are washed by the Blood of Yeshua (Hebrews 13:12) and they are sealed with Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13). He who overcomes; their name will remain in the Book of Life and they will inherit the Kingdom of God (Matthew 25:34). “For everything that has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:5). “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:7-8).
God is Sovereign - If it is God’s will to kill and allow rape – He is Sovereign, He can do what He wants. Ultimately, He makes people sin who He hasn’t chosen. The Devil is God’s “lap dog” and does His will too.
This word “Sovereign” has various meanings and most word for word translations don’t have this word in the Bible. Did you know that the same Hebrew word is the same word used for Nebuchadnezzar and Herod? The problem with this word is that everyone has their own definition – it is a doctrinal word and used as an escape goat for ignorance or for holding things in “tension”. God does not make people sin, they sin by themselves. He has never ordered anyone to rape no matter what. If we want to know God’s will then all we need to do is look to Yeshua. “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). Yes, God has allowed the devil access because it would have been illegal for God to protect people when they have opened the door (e.g. 1 Cor. 5:1-5). Whatever our personal definition concerning the word “Sovereign” let’s forget about it because it drives more confusion. It may sound honoring to God, but it is not, stick to what the Word of God says about His character. The Sovereignty doctrine is near to the exact replica of the Islamic Allah – guess who is behind it!
If murder, rape and molestation is considered God’s Will then God is also the originator of sin, yet He also judges those He made do it. This is against the Character of God. Sin grieves God (Genesis 6:6). In the beginning the first commandment He gave after the Garden of Eden was to “RULE” over sin (Genesis 4:7). If it was not possible God wouldn’t have said it. God is good. “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Do we really understand what “no darkness at all” means? “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11). That’s what a loving Father does. In addition, God gave us His law to help us know what sin is so that we are not harmed. He has given freewill – which means the ability to choose Him or Self. Because He loves us, He tells us choose life. God said, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live” (Deut. 30:19). The choice is ours to make. He doesn’t force us to do right or wrong.
God’s will be done regardless therefore we don’t really need to pray.
It is clear that His will is not being done all the time, the world doesn’t always look like Heaven and that is why we need to pray as Yeshua told us, “Our Heavenly Father ….Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Due to lack of people interceding for a group of people, God had to destroy a group of people (Ezekiel 22:20-21). Prayer could have prevented that. We are to watch and pray that we don’t fall into temptation (Matthew 26:41) because it is not God’s desire that we fall into temptation.
No matter what a person does, God has already determined who He wants to save and who He doesn’t.
No. It is true that God has a special plan for everyone that is born (Jeremiah 29:11) and His plan is that all be saved (Ezekiel 33:10-20; John 3:16; 2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; Matthew 18:14). So that they can experience the blessings promised to Abraham (Genesis 22:18; Romans 4:16), do the work that God has designed mankind to do from the very beginning (Ephesians 2:10) and experience His love (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 2:9). He takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11). BUT it is a choice a person makes to repent or not, God doesn’t repent for them (Acts 17:30-31). The Psalmist said to the LORD, “My life is continually in my hand, yet I do not forget Your law” (Psalms 119:109).
BASED ON THE FOLLOWING VERSES
God establishes authorities like Hitler, Stalin
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that beare ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Romans 13:1-2). “… know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He will” (Daniel 4:25).
In Response: It is true that there have been some that God has elevated and influenced like Cyrus. Just like Yeshua choosing only 12 Disciples, but keep in mind, that many Disciples who followed Yeshua chose Him (Acts 1:22-23; John 6:60, 66; Luke 9:57-62).
But in Romans 13, Paul refers to the “position of authority” vs. “the person” in authority. Without authority/ hierarchy there is anarchy. God is the ultimate one in authority to submit to – we choose to submit to God, then we submit to His word (Acts 17:30-31). This Greek word in Romans 13:1 is “Authorities” – all 103 times in the NT it is in reference to the position of authority and not a person. In Romans 13:3, However, Paul talks about the specific person in the Authority, knows as the Ruler. If the person in the position of authority commands one to do something contrary to God’s Word, then God’s word trumps that action. Just like when Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3) disobeyed the King’s command to bow to an Idol and responded to the King, “We will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Daniel 3:18).
Those who are in authority still have their own will and can act contrary to God’s will but God will judge them especially if they make themselves like God (Acts 12:22-23; Daniel 4:27-31; and the Anti-Christ in the end times - 2 Thess. 2:3-4; 12:11; Matthew 24:15-23; Mark 13:14-19). Just like in Daniel 4:25-27, Nebuchadnezzar repented after receiving God’s judgement – He didn’t acknowledge God who helped him but elevated himself, thus felt the consequences. God influences and judges them harsher than those who aren’t in authority, like those who teach the word of God (James 3:1). For to whomever much is given, of him much shall be required. And to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more (Luke 12:48).
God and Satan both influence the rulers. They have the choice to work within God's law or outside. Whether they know the law exists or don’t, they will feel the consequences if they reward evil. For this reason, Paul reminds us to pray for the king and those “IN” authority (1 Timothy 2:2) so that God can influence them. Notice the characteristics of a good leader Paul is referring to, not a Murderer, and notice the reason why we are to listen to them, “For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil” (Romans 13:4).
All are sinners and therefore they can never make the right choices!
Sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin (Romans 5:12-14), therefore it is impossible to rule over sin for we were born into sin - Especially without Christ. “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved) (Ephesians 2:1-5)
In Response: Even if a person is in sin it is impossible that they don’t do anything right. Many have done good and have chosen good, including Enoch, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David etc. The statement of “unable” to make the right choices because we were sold under sin is not true. Just like Adam was in the Garden of Eden perfect, no sin, all he knew was goodness so it was impossible for him to sin. Of course not, free-will is the ability to choose life or death, good or evil regardless of the environment. Remember Adam ate knowing he was disobeying God, it wasn’t a surprise or by accident (Genesis 3:5; 1 Timothy 2:14). Therefore, if it is possible to do evil when goodness dwelled in him, then it is also possible to do good when sin dwelt in him.
Cain sinned and yet God told him to rule over it, which means it is possible to rule over sin (Gen. 4:6-7). God wouldn’t have said it was possible to rule over sin if it wasn’t. Later God tells the Israelites, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). Today it is so much easier for Christians who have Holy Spirit dwelling in them to do what is right and walk in the freedom that comes from the payment of sin by Yeshua (Ezek. 11:19-21; Eph. 1:13).
God has destined some to Hell when they are born
Like hating Esau and hardening Pharaoh. “For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth; It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated” (Romans 9:11-13). “ For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth” (Romans 9:17-18).
In Response: Firstly, understand that the lake of fire was prepared for the Devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41), it wasn’t designed for mankind but mankind who reject God will go there (Revelation 20:15). Secondly, this question on Romans 9 would suggest the God raised Pharaoh up from birth to punish and harden him and that God chose to hate Esau before Esau was born. But these interpretations are totally untrue! Now before these insinuations are answered – stop. Does this make sense? If God chose someone before they were born to send them to hell, what choice does the person really have? And when God judges them one day based on their works, how can He do that when He made them do it (Revelation 20:11-15)? Is this the God we know of in scripture? Absolutely not! It is His will that all be saved, not some:
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 (2 Peter 3:9).
For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior; who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish (Matthew 18:14).
Truly, then, God overlooking the times of ignorance, now He strictly commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day in which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by a Man whom He appointed, having given proof to all by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:30-31).
If people don’t hear the good news, who is at fault? God, or people who God has commissioned to share the good news? Just like if someone is bitten by a poisonous snake and we are holding the antidote, is the company who makes the antidote to blame or the person holding it?
Now regarding God “raising up” pharaoh from birth to destroy him. It is not true because the Greek word “Raised” in OT (through the Septuagint) and the NT, NEVER refers to being raised up from birth. Approximately 10% of the time the Greek word is referred to as raised to power/authority, given a place of authority. Most of the time, approximately 90%, the Greek word is referred to as raised from a position of rest or death or collapse for example 1 Corinthians 6:14; Job 5:11; Daniel 12:2. God could have killed Pharaoh for what Pharaoh did to God’s people. Pharaoh killed the children, abused the women and men (Exodus 1:15-22; 2:23-24). God’s judgement on Pharaoh was raising him up and hardening him, instead of killing him. That’s why this phrase God used is just before the 7th plague (Exodus 9:16), not before Pharaoh was born, nor before he came to power. God didn’t want Pharaoh to fold so easily so God raised him up by hardening him just before and during the Plagues (Exodus 4:21; 9:12, 16). God didn’t need to harden Pharaoh after each plague as Pharaoh hardened himself (Exodus 8:15; 9:34; 1 Samuel 6:6). Hardening is stubbornness motivated by self-righteousness.
Now regarding Esau being hated by God before he was born. It is true that God chose the assignments of Esau and Jacob before they were born. Esau was to serve Jacob. But Esau not only refused to serve Jacob as God commanded but actually attacked Jacob and his descendants for many years. This statement by the Lord “Jacob I have loved but Esau I have hated” was over 1,000 years after Esau was born and is in reference to their descendants (Malachi 1:1-4). Paul is comparing these Israelites, who are not surrendering to the Messiah (Romans 10:3-4), to Esau’s rebellion.
Psa. 139:16 “Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” – In Response: David acknowledges that God knows him before he was formed. Just like a creator of a new car knows the design before it is made. But unlike a car, God has given mankind freewill (Deut. 30:19).
Job 14:5 “Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with thee, thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass;” - In Response: Why is Job quoted when we know that he was responding based on rebellion and didn't have the word of God (Job 31:35). Job also repented twice after this. Besides, what Job quoted was for mankind in general, not concerning anyone specifically. God has appointed limits e.g. maximum age 120 years (Gen. 6) and 70-80 (Ps. 90:15) – no one is living to 900 years old now days.
Rom. 11:2 “God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? how he maketh intercession to God against Israel saying”– In Response: In general God did not cast the Israelites away but many individuals He has. Paul is addressing the fact that blindness has come in part to Israel because of their stubbornness and rejection of God's plan the Messiah that he covered earlier in Romans 9 and 10. Then adds in Romans 11 that they will remain like that until Gentiles are ready (Rom. 11:25). It was Israel's own rejection of God that caused this judgement on them – but God is merciful.
Eph. 1:11 “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will” – In Response: Read the next verse "that WE who first trusted in Christ..." It is an action of trusting in Christ after hearing the message.
2 Tim. 1:9 “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” - In Response: The concept of Saving is His Plan not ours. He designed it and provided it but we still need to accept it. Just like we didn't pay for the fine but WE acknowledged our error and accepted His terms for forgiveness. No works except the work of believing (John 6:29). The term “Before the world” means “before Population”. Remember the world is mankind, for God so loved the world. Population of mankind started after leaving the Garden of Eden. However, the promise of the Messiah (Christ) was before they left Eden (Gen. 3:15), i.e. before the foundation of the world.
2 Thess. 2:13 “But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth” - In Response: Just like it is the will of God all be saved (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Those who respond to His invitation are then chosen and acknowledged.
Rev. 13:8 “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” - In Response: It is not saying that everyone on earth will not be in the Book of life or that everyone will worship the Beast. Notice the condition – it is saying everyone on earth who worships the beast will not be in the book of life. Why? Because they have accepted the mark of the beast which they were warned not to take (Rev. 14:9-11) and therefore as he said they will receive eternal damnation i.e. not be in the Book of Life. The Book of Life existed before the world. Who is written in the Book of life? Everyone that is born into the world, but only the Righteous at the point of death remain in the Book of Life (Exo. 32:31-33; Psa. 69:28; Phil. 4:3; Luke 10:20; Rev. 21:27), those who aren't are blotted out (Rev. 3:5; Matt. 7:21-24)
Only those who God has predestined will be saved
Those who are not called will not be saved! “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified” (Romans 8:28-30). He chooses some to go to Hell. Acts 13:48 “And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed”.
In Response – to Acts 13:48, the context is that the Jews were jealous and spoke against Paul’s message (verse 45). Paul and Barnabas respond to the Jews who rejected the message, “seeing ye put it from you and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles (verse 46)… the Lord has commanded us saying I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.” (verse 47) Now the quote in verse 48, as many of the Gentiles there who Paul and Barnabas appointed to eternal life, – believed. They were glad to receive the message and accepted it.
In Response – to Romans 8:28-30. God obviously knew people would come to Him, so He planned to redeem them and enable them to conform into the image of His Son. If a person buys a Ford car, it could be said that the Ford company predestined people would buy it or else they wouldn’t make it. Similarly, it is the responsibility of the individual to respond to the call of God. Not everyone who is called is chosen. Just like Yeshua tells us in Matthew 22:1-14 and ends with “for many are called but a few chosen” (Matthew 22:14). God predestined the Israelites and the world to confirm to the image of His Son, therefore He calls all (first the Israelites then the rest). Many reject his invitation, and a few accept. Those who accept the call are called the chosen. It was not His plan to invite them only to say no to them, nor did He expect them to say no but was angry when they rejected it and when they made excuses. Another example where God’s will was to bring them to Him but they would not, Yeshua said, "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!" (Matthew 23:37).
Side note: Does God know who will be saved and who not? It is possible but also possible that He can choose not to know – this isn’t a question we should be exploring as believers or try to discover (Romans 10:6-7). Remember God chose Saul as Israel’s king and then regretted making Saul king – didn’t He know He would rebel (1 Samuel 15:11). The key message we need to remember is that God’s desire is that no one perishes but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). Obviously, His desire/will is not being met because of freewill He has given mankind. God also loves the whole world and made the way (John 3:16). He convicts the whole world of sin (John 16:9), which is calling the world to repent. Those who respond to His call, He accepts and chooses them. The plan is complete for those who ACCEPT His plan – believe on Yeshua.
Bottomline is, God has given freewill, it is the responsibility of individuals to respond to the invitation from God, those who accept His invitation are the chosen, thus they are justified and glorified.
Some get confused over the various stages of salvation:
1. God’s Plan/ Predestine, His Desire - God created the plan, not us, He made Yeshua available to all (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9)
2. God Calls/ Draws/ Convicts/ Invites - Holy Spirit draws people to Yeshua by convicting them of sin (John 16:9; Matthew 22:3-4; 9-10; Isaiah 65:1-2).
3. We Respond/ Freewill – People have an opportunity to accept Yeshua or reject Him, God doesn’t make them call upon Him (Acts 17:30; John 6:28-29; Romans 9:32-33; 10:9-10, 13, 17; Matthew 11:28; 23:37; 1 Peter 1; Matthew 22:5-6; Ephesians 1:12; 1 Timothy 4:10). IF they accept – they are chosen by God (Matthew 22:10, 14). If they reject – they are rejected by God (John 3:36; Matthew 22:8; Isaiah 65:12).
4. Chosen / Elect (Matthew 22:14) – The chosen are justified and glorified (Rom. 8:30). They are sealed and empowered by Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13; Acts 2:38) to do good works (Ephesians 2:8-10) – ultimately conformed into the image of His Son Yeshua (Romans 8:29). Therefore, the chosen are a result of the predestined plan of God (Ephesians 1:5).
In summary Paul says (Romans 1:16), “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God (God’s plan) unto salvation (Chosen) to everyone who believes (We respond)”.