From Dr Alan C. Clifford

While John 3: 16 states the contrary, Hyper-Calvinists claim that God does not love everybody. They insist that God ‘hates all the workers of iniquity’ (Psalm 5: 5) and that ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated’ (Romans 9: 13).

While they recognise the use of hyperbole in NT Greek (Luke 14: 26 being a relevant example when compared with Matthew 10: 37), Hyper-Calvinists make a great mistake in their ‘absolutist’ exegesis of Psalm 5: 5 and Romans 9: 13. I reply to this as follows:

1. Viewing the context of the entire psalm, a contrast is drawn between the godly penitent and the ungodly impenitent. Unlike those who ‘rejoice’ in God (v. 11), David writes of those who ‘have rebelled against’ Him (v. 10 - probably Saul or even Absalom). While God takes pleasure in godly worshippers (vs. 2-3), He does not take pleasure in ungodly rebels. In short, God loves those (even before grace made them penitents) who love Him, while he hates impenitent ‘workers of iniquity’(v. 5), not sinners as such. While they live, loving overtures of mercy are still made to the latter (see Psalm 145: 8-9, 17-18; Jonah 3: 10; 4: 1-2). They are not totally unloved. Otherwise, what hope would any of us have? See Micah 7: 18-19.

2. To argue that the use of ‘hate’ in Romans 9: 13 is absolutely literal with no trace of hyperbole is to be crudely literalistic, especially in view of Genesis 29: 30-1. There we read that ‘Leah was hated’ (v. 31), this clearly meaning that Jacob ‘loved also Rachel more than Leah’ (v. 30). Thus Leah was not absolutely or totally unloved when Jacob preferred Rachel .

3. When Paul speaks of Esau being hated, the text quoted (see Malachi 1: 1-4) means no more than that the Edomites were exposed to God’s punishments on earth, and that Esau was ‘less loved’ than Jacob. While Esau and his descendants were excluded from God’s special covenant with Israel, they were not excluded from the Law of mercy made to mankind in fallen Adam and Noah. To say that Esau was eternally damned and beyond the hope of saving grace is to go beyond Scripture.
Hyper-Calvinists ask: “Will God send to hell a man whom He loves?”

According to the Word of God, the answer must be: “Sadly, yes.” I demonstrate this as follows:

1. John 3: 16-18 and 36 clearly teach that those who perish are lost for not believing, not for being unloved. They are part of the world of humanity (yes, Jews and Gentiles, the latter ‘so loved’ by God as He loved Israel). When we are commanded to love our enemies, is it not because God does too? See Matthew 5: 43-8.

2. There is no evidence that the rich young ruler was saved. Yet we read that ‘Jesus...loved him’ (Mark 10: 21).

3. Our blessed LORD lovingly ‘wept’ over Jerusalem (Luke 19: 41). He actually pleaded with them (see Luke 13: 34). Yet many were never saved. Consider the godly Puritan John Howe’s view. In The Redeemer’s Tears Wept over Lost Souls, he expounds our Saviour’s weeping thus:

“Thou dost not perish unlamented, even with the purest heavenly pity.”
While God’s sovereign grace ensures the salvation of His elect, His love remains still to be preached to ‘every creature’(Mark 16: 15) within every nation. And what is the ‘good news’ to be thus declared to every creature’ if not that the saving benefits of Christ’s sacrifice are available for each person for their believing acceptance? While only the elect receive such benefits, they are proclaimed and offered universally, by Christ’s own command (see Matthew 28: 18-20). According to the revealed will of God, salvation is thus conditional for all. According to His absolute will, it is enjoyed only by some (see Deuteronomy 29: 29). In this respect, ‘Christ died for all sufficiently but for the elect efficiently’ (to use an old distinction). Such is the obvious perspicuous meaning of Matthew 22: 4; 2 Corinthians 5: 14-15; 1 Timothy 2: 6; 1 Timothy 4: 10 and 1 John 2: 2.
This is surely the Christianity of the New Testament, the Gospel of the Word of God.
Used with permission.