To Live Is Christ

I have been studying the book of Philippians for a few weeks now and something in Chapter One stood out to me like it has not before in the past. Paul is writing that famous verse, “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) I’ve heard that verse all my life, I have always known what it meant, but did I truly know what it means? Well now I do.

The following verses are so beautiful as Paul shows his great love for the church and the people of God. He says that he is hard pressed between the choices of going to heaven and seeing the savior, or to continue the work of the Lord here on earth. What a statement!

So often we get caught up in our yearning to see the savior that I think we honestly forget why he has us here in the first place. There is work to be done. We should be glad that we are here to continually serve others for Christ.

Not Willing That Any Should Perish?

I often hear the argument from non-Calvinists that God is not willing that any should perish and therefore Reformed Doctrine is 100% wrong. But is it truly the case that God is not willing that any individual perish? Is it really his will that all would go to heaven and be saved? No, it is not. There are many problems with this suggestion, and we shall examine a few now.

First, let’s deal with the major elephant in the room. If God desired and, in fact, willed, that every person, individual, be saved, then all would be saved. But we know that is not the case at all. There are too many verses to name that talk about the damned being forever separated from God in Hell. So, if people are going to Hell, and they are, then either God does not will that everyone be saved, or he is too weak to accomplish his will. I choose the former.

Now, let’s deal with the not willing that any should perish idea. Where does this come from? The verse used to prop up this false idea is 2 Peter 3:9.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Pet. 3:9 (ESV)

If you take this verse out of context, as the non-Calvinist tends to do, and quickly read the verse without careful examination, then yes, you will probably come to the conclusion that God wants all to be saved and have nobody perish. But that is not what this verse states.

The verse states that the Lord is patient towards you. Who are the you? Who are these any that God does not want to perish? Context gives us the answer. If you look at chapter 3 in verses 1, 8, 14, 15, and 17, you see this is written to the beloved. That is, people who are already saved, the elect. That is who the you in verse 9 refers to. The you are the elect.

God is not willing that any of the elect, not all individuals, should perish. This is consistent with the rest of Scripture. God is the one who chooses who will be saved, not man (Romans 9:16, John 1:12-13).