Thursday, May 28, 2009

Does God Desire That All Should Be Saved?

Paul, when speaking about praying for leaders and rulers, says in 1 Timothy 2:3-4 -

"This is Good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of truth."

The question that came to mind as I read this is: Is it God's desire that all people (everyone who has ever lived or will ever live) to be saved?

If this portion of Scripture means that God's desire is that all people get saved, then doesn't that notion imply then that God's desired plan has failed when people reject him and are sent to hell? Can sin and creation somehow have power over the will of God? Can man's "free will" somehow overpower the will of God? If so, then we are serving a God who we can control and whom we can manipulate. What kind of God is that?

As we read this passage of Scripture, it is important for us to look at the context with which the writer is writing. Since he is exhorting the people to pray for their leaders and their salvation, instead of worshiping them, we can conclude then that what is meant by "all people" should be understood as "all kinds of people." This means that God is not a respecter of persons. In God's eyes, kings and servants are the same. It is God's desire to see a diversity of people come to know him.

Calvin says that God's desire for the salvation of all "means there is no people and no rank in the world that is excluded from salvation." However this doesn't somehow imply a universalism of salvation, but says that salvation is for all types of people: any race, any economic status, any denomination, etc.

Above all this, there remains one thing that God desires more than people's salvation, that being His Own Glory (Is. 48:11). R.C. Sproul says,

"The Lord is glorified when sin is punished in hell and so God's supreme desire is met even when people are not redeemed."

What is the application here for our lives? We must understand our role in this. We are not God, but are called to imitate Christ. We are to be very careful in this imitation, because we don't know the hearts of people. We are commanded to spread the message of the gospel with words, and show how those who have been transformed by such message, by our actions.

Belief in the sovereignty of God is not meat to stifle evangelism, but meant to fuel it. Meaning, when we understand that we are not in control of the "results" of evangelism, and will not be judged on results, it allows us freedom to proclaim the gospel to all, while trusting that God is in control of the transformation of the hearts.

In what ways are you/or are you not fulfilling the call to spread the message of the gospel? When you do share the gospel with others, are you trying to manipulate them to get the result that you want, or are you relying on the God to do what he does in the hearts of people?



daddyof3 said...

Yes, brother! Nice! Stimulating reading. Thanks for laying all that out there. The only thing I would add is the notion of God's two wills. I believe it is speculated by some people and supported in scripture that God actually has two wills: His secret will and His revealed will. In other words, it is conceivable that it is God's revealed will that all people know Him, but in His 'secret' will His sovereign plan plays out for His glory. I actually did some study on this, and I'll get some links to attach to a comment. Seems like I first heard Piper preach on this.

daddyof3 said...