Question: I was wondering if you might share your interpretation of 1 Peter:2:8 regarding the use of the word tithemi as applied to the faithless apeitheo. How does this reconcile with the clear statement in 2 Peter:3:9 that God does not will anyone to perish? I searched for a reference to this in your book What Love is This? (which I found very helpful) but couldn't find it.
Response: In 1 Peter:2:8, Christ is called a "stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient [apeitheo]: whereunto also they were appointed [tithemi]." Yet 2 Peter:3:9 declares: "The Lord is...not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance."
Putting these verses together, you ask how God can simultaneously will that no one perish yet appoint some to stumble at His Word? Or, to phrase it differently, how can God "not be willing that any should perish" yet appoint some to disobedience and thus to judgment?
First of all, one must realize that God does not control all behavior and beliefs of men. Such teaching is an unbiblical Calvinist doctrine that makes God the author of evil, robs man of the power of choice and thus of the ability to love, and robs God of His love. He allows men to pursue their wicked ways on earth and only intervenes to rescue the righteous or to draw sinners with the gospel--which He continually does for all mankind, though most refuse His offer of salvation. Of course, God can overrule man's will to effect His own purposes, but He cannot change the rebel's heart. If He could, then the "first and great commandment...Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind" (Mat:22:37-38) is of no purpose. Why would God command men to love Him if they have no free choice but must be programmed to obey Him?
The fact that God doesn't will for anyone to perish doesn't mean that no one will perish. The prayer Christ taught His disciples to pray, "Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven" (Mat:6:10), is proof enough that much if not most of what happens on earth is not God's will. God does not will that anyone sin; men sin freely of their own will. The fact that He has appointed rebels to judgment does not mean that He caused them to sin so that He could punish them for their disobedience.
The very few scriptures that seem inconsistent with God's love and man's power of choice must be interpreted in the context of the overwhelming number of scriptures (scores of them) that clearly echo "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life" (Jn:3:16). Yet Calvinism declares that God could have all of mankind in heaven if He so desired but that He sovereignly chooses to send the vast majority to the lake of fire. What Love Is This?!
Let's take another closer look at the clause, "being disobedient [apeitheo]: whereunto also they were appointed [tithemi]." Apeitheo clearly means willful, deliberate disobedience. Therefore "appointed [tithemi]" cannot mean that God predestined, much less caused, their disobedience. It can only mean that He allowed it.