Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace (Part 48) - Eze 18:21-24; Eze 33:11-19Submitted by Pastor Chad Wagner on Wednesday, April 29, 2015.
For a paperback book in outline form which addresses over 150 difficult verses that Arminians use against Sovereign Grace, check out: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace: Rooting Arminianism Out of Every Verse. For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace 1. Eze 18:21-24 A. "But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. 22) All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live. 23) Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? 24) But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die." (Eze 18:21-24) B. See Eze 33:11-19 - Section III 2. Eze 33:11-19 A. "11) Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? 12) Therefore, thou son of man, say unto the children of thy people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his transgression: as for the wickedness of the wicked, he shall not fall thereby in the day that he turneth from his wickedness; neither shall the righteous be able to live for his righteousness in the day that he sinneth. 13) When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it. 14) Again, when I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; if he turn from his sin, and do that which is lawful and right; 15) If the wicked restore the pledge, give again that he had robbed, walk in the statutes of life, without committing iniquity; he shall surely live, he shall not die. 16) None of his sins that he hath committed shall be mentioned unto him: he hath done that which is lawful and right; he shall surely live." (Eze 33:11-16) B. Questions on this passage. i. Does it teach that eternal salvation is dependent on works? ii. Does it teach that a reprobate (non-elect person) can acquire eternal life by turning from his wickedness and doing good? iii. Does it teach that a child of God can lose his eternal life by sinning and thereby perish eternally? C. The life and death in this passage cannot be referring to spiritual life and death. i. Men are born spiritually dead (Rom 5:12; Psa 58:3; Eph 2:1-3). a. But the death in Eze 33:13-15 is spoken of in the future tense. b. If those in the passage are not spiritually dead and therefore already have eternal life, then they could never die spiritually because eternal life is eternal (Joh 10:28). c. Therefore, the death is not spiritual. ii. The life in this passage can be gained and lost. a. Eternal life is not conditioned on works (2Ti 1:9; Tit 3:5). b. Eternal life is eternal and therefore can't be lost (Joh 10:28). c. See Section II,7,A on Eternal Salvation. d. Therefore, the life in this passage is not eternal life. iii. Since the life and death in this passage are not spiritual and eternal, they must be physical and temporal. D. Who are the righteous and the wicked in this passage? i. Ezekiel was to speak these words unto the house of Israel (Eze 33:10). ii. Israel was a type (figure) of God's elect (Isa 41:8-9; Isa 43:1; Isa 45:4a), the Israel of God (Gal 6:16). iii. Ezekiel was not told to speak those words to the Egyptians, the Babylonians, or any other heathen nation, but rather to God's people. iv. Therefore the "righteous" and the "wicked" in the text must be understood as the obedient and disobedient elect. v. God's elect are called wicked when they do wickedness (1Co 5:13 c/w 2Co 2:6-8; Act 2:23 c/w Act 2:36-42). vi. This passage is therefore not referring to reprobates, but rather to the elect. E. Does this passage teach that God has no pleasure in judging the wicked (reprobate) in hell? (Eze 18:23; Eze 33:11) i. It pleases God to administer justice and to judge sinners with death (Rom 6:23). a. God does whatsoever He pleases (Psa 115:3; Isa 46:10). b. God judges the reprobate by sending them to the lake of fire (Rev 20:15). c. Therefore, it pleases God to judge the wicked who are not His elect. ii. As was shown above, Eze 18:21-24 and Eze 33:11-19 are not referring to the reprobate, but to Israel who are a type of God's elect. a. Eze 18:23 and Eze 33:11 are therefore not referring to God having no pleasure in the death of the reprobate. b. They are rather referring to God having no pleasure in the physical death of His people Israel (Eze 18:31-32). F. If the righteous turn from their righteousness, they will die physically. i. This was true of Israel in the OT. a. Israel in the wilderness, who were elect, died because of disobedience (1Co 10:1-10). b. The OT is full of examples of God's judgment of Israel because of their sin. ii. This is still true of God's elect in the NT. a. Jesus taught His disciples that they would perish (physically) just like other people had if they didn't repent (Luk 13:1-9). b. Ananias and Sapphira died because of their sin (Act 5:1-10). c. The Corinthians who abused the Lord's supper died as a result of it (1Co 11:30). d. If a brother in the church errs from the truth, God may judge him with death if he doesn't turn from his wickedness (Jam 5:19-20). (See Jam 5:19-20 - Section III) e. The Lord judges His people (Heb 12:5-8). G. If the wicked turn from their wickedness, their lives will be spared. i. This was true of Israel in the OT. a. King Ahab's life was spared because of his repentance (1Ki 21:25-29). b. King Manasseh's life was spared when he humbled himself before God (2Ch 33:9-13). ii. This is still true of God's elect in the NT. a. If a brother in the church converts a brother from the error of his way, he will save him from death (Jam 5:19-20). (See Jam 5:19-20 - Section III) b. Jesus counsels his churches to repent in order to be spared judgment (Rev 2:16; Rev 3:3). iii. It has never been God's will that any of his elect should perish temporally, but that they should all come to repentance (2Pe 3:9 c/w 2Pe 1:1). H. This is a principle which is true of any people with God: if they do evil in God's sight He will destroy them; if they do good in His sight he will spare them (Jer 18:7-10). For a master copy of the outline, click here: Problem Texts for Sovereign Grace