Is there a sense in which God desires all men to be saved?

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Herald

Administrator
Staff member
But how is it a "desire"? If God desires it in any sense, is it not a failure of His abilities that what he desires cannot come to pass? That is, how can it be that God, knowing that the only way in which any can be saved is for the blood of Christ to cover their sins, desire (in any sense) that someone be saved if He will not give Christ's blood for them? What is the sense of speaking of ANY kind of "desire" there, except to "let God off the hook"?

Todd, we can't ignore the word theleo. We have to deal with it. The literal translation of the word is "wish", but that conveys the same idea as desire. It's how we contextualize theleo that gives us a clue as to God's mind on the subject.

I can confidently say that God's desire for you to be saved was effectual because that desire sprung forth from His will of decree. But what of those who are not saved? Does God theleo them to a lesser extent; or is His theleo in keeping with Arminian doctrine? Of course, we would say "no" to both questions. That's why I am suggesting that theleo in 1 Timothy 2:4 is in harmony with the general call of the gospel; not a personal desire by God that John, Sue, Geoff or Sandy be saved.

Hi Bill -

The dispute isn't over the word theleo, but over the word panta. Nobody doubts that the word theleo expresses desire or wish... but we can't make God subject to human limitations of desire. To echo the great theologian Mick Jagger, "You can't always get what you want". This is true of men, but it is NOT true of God. I honestly think the whole discussion centers on our implicit assumption that somehow it's okay for God to desire something that he cannot have, because that's the way it is for you and me. Since that is NOT true for God, then we have to read the text more carefully in context... and I would submit that every single context where this "desire" is expressed is a context that requires panta not to cover each and every individual.

Todd

Todd, you've completely missed my point. God never desires something that he can't have. In regards to soteriology, God's call is effectual. If we're good card carrying Calvinists we better believe that. But what did Paul mean when he said, God desires all to come to repentance? Our overarching soteriology keeps at bay any Arminian view of the text, but we're intellectually dishonest if we don't tackle the term in context.

If you notice from my earlier suggestion, I did not interpret theleos as an unfulfilled desire, but rather an expression of the general call of the gospel. All (and I mean each and every person) are called to repent and believe. The only other plausible interpretation would be that God's desire is for all who are appointed unto eternal life to believe. That would take the theleos of 1 Tim. 2:4 and make it part of the effectual call.
 
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OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
Sarah, I wasn't against the content of your answer, I was against the brevity. I knew what you meant, but it's not what the free willy 'God loves everyone' person wants to hear.

I once asked a good friend of mine who held strongly that Gods desires everyone to be saved (without exception), this question: Do you believe that God loves people in hell?

She didn't even hesitate, "Yes!!! And he feels so bad and wishes they were not!"

That is strong sentiment and very difficult to argue with. When the heart rules the mind, what good is argument?

Agreed! Maybe you should comment on this post. Frankly, I'm tired of debating on that post as to why I don't believe God loves everyone. Perhaps you could reconcile their heart with their minds....or mine! :)
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
We seem to be getting a lot of posts asking the same question in slightly different terms. At the root of the argument is a desire to look past the historic concept of God's preceptive will and conflate a preceptive desire with a decretive one. In doing so you are either redefining words to create confusion (or as some would say "mystery") or you are actually approaching Amyraldism.
 

Marrow Man

Drunk with Powder
I believe that both Spurgeon and Piper hold to the "all men" position (as in the original post's question) from 1 Timothy 2.
 
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Skyler

Puritan Board Graduate
We seem to be getting a lot of posts asking the same question in slightly different terms. At the root of the argument is a desire to look past the historic concept of God's preceptive will and conflate a preceptive desire with a decretive one. In doing so you are either redefining words to create confusion (or as some would say "mystery") or you are actually approaching Amyraldism.

So is it true, then, that in God's preceptive will He desires all(meaning all) men to be saved?

That's what I was trying to get at with "in some sense".

EDIT: MarrowMan, which position?
 

cih1355

Puritan Board Junior
We seem to be getting a lot of posts asking the same question in slightly different terms. At the root of the argument is a desire to look past the historic concept of God's preceptive will and conflate a preceptive desire with a decretive one. In doing so you are either redefining words to create confusion (or as some would say "mystery") or you are actually approaching Amyraldism.

So is it true, then, that in God's preceptive will He desires all(meaning all) men to be saved?

That's what I was trying to get at with "in some sense".

EDIT: MarrowMan, which position?

I think what is meant by, "in some sense", is that God commands all men to come to Christ.

God did not make a plan that all men will be saved. He is not attempting to save everyone. He does not intend to save everyone.
 

Hippo

Puritan Board Junior
We seem to be getting a lot of posts asking the same question in slightly different terms. At the root of the argument is a desire to look past the historic concept of God's preceptive will and conflate a preceptive desire with a decretive one. In doing so you are either redefining words to create confusion (or as some would say "mystery") or you are actually approaching Amyraldism.

So is it true, then, that in God's preceptive will He desires all(meaning all) men to be saved?

That's what I was trying to get at with "in some sense".

EDIT: MarrowMan, which position?

Why is this important to you?

I would hope that you are not planning to tell people that God desires their salvation without fully explaining the context in which "desire" is being used, that would be seriously misleading.
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
I would hope that you are not planning to tell people that God desires their salvation without fully explaining the context in which "desire" is being used, that would be seriously misleading.

Absolutely. On that we certainly must all agree

Between the Perceptive will and the Decretive will, some sound men placed some distinction.

emphasis added

Though the efficacy and benefits be certainly intended to believers, yet God’s offer of Christ, and the publication of the gospel is general: Isa. lv. 1‘Ho, every one that thirsteth, come to the waters;’ Rev. xxii. 17, Whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.’ Such commands being rather an intimation of what he would have us do than what he intendeth we shall do; of the creature’s duty rather than of God’s (...decretive...) will. It is the will (...preceptive...) of God’s pleasure that they ought to seek after an interest in Christ. So it is said, 1 Tim ii. 4, ‘God will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth;’ voluntate praecepti, by the will of his command: and by virtue of this we are bidden to preach the gospel to every creature, Mark xvi. 16. To the making it effectual, there is required not only God’s will, but God’s grace…

Thomas Manton, Works, 3:334

God delights in the conversion and eternal life of the sinner, as a thing pleasing in itself, and congruous with His own infinitely compassionate nature, rather than in his perdition; and therefore demands from man, as an act due from him, to turn if he would live. But although He does not will, in the sense of delighting in, the death of the sinner, He at the same time wills, in the sense of decreeing, the death of the sinner for the display of His justice. Even as an upright magistrate, though he does not delight in and desire the death of the criminal, yet determines to inflict the just penalty of the law."

Francis Turretin - Institutes of Elenctic Theology IV ch. XVII . 33
 

Skyler

Puritan Board Graduate
We seem to be getting a lot of posts asking the same question in slightly different terms. At the root of the argument is a desire to look past the historic concept of God's preceptive will and conflate a preceptive desire with a decretive one. In doing so you are either redefining words to create confusion (or as some would say "mystery") or you are actually approaching Amyraldism.

So is it true, then, that in God's preceptive will He desires all(meaning all) men to be saved?

That's what I was trying to get at with "in some sense".

EDIT: MarrowMan, which position?

Why is this important to you?

I would hope that you are not planning to tell people that God desires their salvation without fully explaining the context in which "desire" is being used, that would be seriously misleading.

It's important to me because I'm really uncomfortable with the exegesis of 1 Timothy 2 as given by many(most?) Calvinists. Like Spurgeon said in his sermon on the text:

Salvation by Knowing the Truth

C. H. Spurgeon said:
You must, most of you, be acquainted with the general method in which our older Calvinistic friends deal with this text. "All men," say they,—"that is, some men": as if the Holy Ghost could not have said "some men" if he had meant some men. "All men," say they; "that is, some of all sorts of men": as if the Lord could not have said "all sorts of men" if he had meant that. The Holy Ghost by the apostle has written "all men," and unquestionably he means all men. I know how to get rid of the force of the "alls" according to that critical method which some time ago was very current, but I do not see how it can be applied here with due regard to truth.

^^That's what I think I'm leaning towards.
 

BobVigneault

Bawberator
That is why Spurgeon is called a Biblicist first and a Calvinist second.

Meanwhile, there are sea slugs like us who are so sure of our abilities to reason and exegete and discern and handle scripture as if we helped write it. God is sure lucky he has us. :duh:
 

tdowns

Puritan Board Junior
Thanks Bob!

For my daily dose of a chuckle with my theology...now if it was only on tap my brother.

:)
 

MW

Puritanboard Amanuensis
On the 1st Timothy passage, it would be well to note that the basis for God willing and seeking the salvation of all men is the ransom that has been made for all men by Jesus Christ, the only Mediator between God and men. The passage clearly makes God's will and the ransom of Jesus Christ co-extensive, so that the objects are one and the same. Those that maintain God desires the salvation of each and every man are bound by exegetical consistency to accept the erroneous doctrine of universal redemption by Jesus Christ.
 

discipulo

Puritan Board Junior
in my opinion it is important to read 1 Tim 2:4 will and all in accordance with

And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.


John 6:39-40, 44

emphasis added
 

Herald

Administrator
Staff member
But did Paul mean when he said, god desires all to come to repentance?
All of the Elect. Because he's not slack in fulfilling His promise (i.e. to save the elect).
All (and I mean each and every person) are called to repenent and believe.
But that is not what the text says. It says God desires all men to be saved. That's not the same thing as the General call.

Why is what I'm saying so difficult to understand? I posed my questions in such a way to compel people to interact with the text.

I agree that only the elect are called, but Paul uses terminology that forces us to take a close look at what's being said. I suppose I'm being a stickler for proper exegesis of the text. We know the elect are the object of God's theleos. Why do we know that? Do we know it from the text of 1 Timothy 2, or do we know it because of our greater understanding of election?

I'm being a prickly pear on this one because it was discussed (at length) during Sunday School this past Lord's Day, and not without rabid participation.
 

A.J.

Puritan Board Junior
Passages like 1 Timothy 2 would seem to indicate that there is a sense in which God does desire the salvation of even the nonelect. The explanation I've heard of "all kinds of men" really seems to be doing exegetical gymnastics to the passage.

What is your understanding of this passage in light of limited atonement?

It is not exegetical gymnastics to interpret it in that way. I would say that the context demands it. The Bible's use of the word "all" differs from one verse to another. And as with other topics (e.g. the mode of baptism), the context must determine the usage of the word. (All quotations are from the ESV.)

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 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 the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. - 1 Tim. 2:1-6

If the "all" here refers to "all without exception" (or "each and every individual"), then does it not follow that we should pray for all men without exception who have lived in the past (who are either in heaven or hell now), all men without exception who are living today, and all men without exception who will live in the future? This would mean praying for the Pharaoh of Moses' time, and Judas Iscariot! The text obviously does not teach that. Let us look at other examples which show that context is extremely important in determining the usage of a word.

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; - Matthew 2:3

and you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. - Matthew 10:22

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. - Luke 2:1

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” - John 4:29

crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who is teaching everyone everywhere against the people and the law and this place. Moreover, he even brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” - Acts 21:28

“My manner of life from my youth, spent from the beginning among my own nation and in Jerusalem, is known by all the Jews. - Acts 26:4

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; - Acts 2:17

And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship.” - Acts 19:27

First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. - Romans 1:8

Aside from the Jewish rulers of Palestine during NT times, who were the "kings" and those in "high positions" back then? They are the Gentile Romans, especially the emperor in Rome! So Paul was saying that Christians during his time also had to pray for these (unbelieving) Gentiles (whom the Jews did not like) that they may also come to the knowledge of the truth. NT writers like Paul had to emphasize the fact that God's salvific work was not for the Jews only (a single nation), but to all the (Gentile) nations. The use of the word "all" is consistent with this.

And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. - Gal. 3:8-9

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matt. 28:18-20

He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. - 1 John 2:2 (cf. John 11:29-52)

As a final note, other Scriptural texts connect the coming to the knowledge of truth (1 Tim. 2:4) with God's unconditional election, and reprobation. These texts are helpful in understanding the meaning of 1 Tim. 2.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. 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 the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. - 1 Tim. 2:1-6

When they heard these things they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.”- Acts 11:28

And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, - 2 Tim. 2:24-25

For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, - Phil. 1:29

Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.– Matt. 13:10-11

So God predestines some (the elect) to come to the knowledge of the truth leaving the rest (the reprobates) to their just condemnation. See 1 Timothy 2:4 - An Exegesis by Alan Kurschner for a more detailed explanation of the text and for a rebuttal of the Arminian interpretation. Thanks for asking. :)
 
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kvanlaan

Puritan Board Doctor
Meanwhile, there are sea slugs like us who are so sure of our abilities to reason and exegete and discern and handle scripture as if we helped write it. God is sure lucky he has us.

:amen: If Spurgeon showed up to this thread incognito, he'd likely have gotten a good drubbing!
 

AThornquist

Puritan Board Doctor
I tend to agree with Piper and Spurgeon on this, although I honestly don't know. My pastors hold to Piper's and Spurgeon's view as well. What I do know is that I just don't understand how God fails in any way if he desires the salvation of all in some sense. I mean, the Lord is far more complex than human beings. Human beings can desire several conflicting things but choose the best option. In this case, I'm not exactly sure what is so far out about the idea of God desiring the salvation of all without exception but having an even greater desire and priority to display both His wrath and mercy. So, God would not in any way be "failing" to save people or fulfill His desires. He does do what He wants to do.

Help me out, if I'm wrong?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
If God does have a desire for all men to be saved, then that desire cannot be interpreted as the sort of desires that mankind has. We desire because we want something and at least try to obtain it. If God desires, then I think we would have to define "desire" as a command. A general command that people stop rebelling against His laws. If we think about it, mankind is still under the works covenant. Just because Adam failed to uphold his part of that covenant doesn't mean God said, "Ok, I'll just let this one go." He still holds mankind to that covenant so in a way He desires or commands that we fulfill it. Now, we have Christ who fulfilled it for us whereas the unelect do not.
 

christianhope

Puritan Board Freshman
I pulled Calvin's commentary on that specific verse. It looks pretty good and it's what I've thought previously. God has two wills- both His sovereign/secret will, and His revealed will.

John Calvin:
4 "Who wishes that all men may be saved. ...And may come to the acknowledgment of the truth. Lastly, he demonstrates that God has at heart the salvation of all, because he invites all to the acknowledgment of his truth. This belongs to that kind of argument in which the cause is proved from the effect; for, if
“the gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one that believeth,” (Romans 1:16,)
it is certain that all those to whom the gospel is addressed are invited to the hope of eternal life. In short, as the calling is a proof of the secret election, so they whom God makes partakers of his gospel are admitted by him to possess salvation; because the gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God, which is a sure entrance into life.
Hence we see the childish folly of those who represent this passage to be opposed to predestination." End quote.

John Frame a well respected theologian and accomplished biblical exegete at RTS put it this way:

"God does not intend to bring about everything he values, but he never fails to bring about what he intends" (113).

So, yes, God does desire all men to be saved, but that does not supercede His sovereign election which takes precedence. Rather, His desire is seen in that it extends through the gospel to all men- hence His 'desiring that all men be saved' but only those whom He has secretly called respond- called by His irresistible grace. Hope this helps!

Refs:
http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom43.iii.iv.i.html
Enjoying God Ministries

-----Added 1/28/2009 at 08:52:18 EST-----

As a cautionary note:

"If we say that God does not desire all men to be saved" - then it's as if we are saying that the gospel should not be preached to every creature. We are commanded to preach the gospel, we leave the salvation of the elect up to God. To say otherwise is to lean towards hyper-Calvinism which is something I hope none of us desire. If we lean, we might step, and next thing we know were not sharing the gospel with others because in our minds 'they are not elect.' Which is only in the jurisdiction of God- to tread there is to tread in hypocrisy and error, upon His holy ground. May our feet not be found there.

I realize many have answered for the sake of the truth here in sincerity, saying that 'no' God does not desire all men to be saved otherwise they would be! And certainly that is true in His sovereign will, but His revealed will is that He desires 'all men to be saved' in that His gospel is preached to all. I do not intend to stain anyone's character or reputation on this board, I only feel there is a misunderstanding in this scripture and I'm trying to give light on it. I'm only saying the same thing John Calvin said in regard to it- not because it was him, but simply because I believe it's a right understanding of that scripture.
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor
"If we say that God does not desire all men to be saved" - then it's as if we are saying that the gospel should not be preached to every creature.

Maybe a hyper-calvinist but not a real Calvinist.
 

Skyler

Puritan Board Graduate
So I think the conclusion that I'm seeing is that in God's "preceptive" will, just as he finds no pleasure in the death of the wicked, he wishes that all could be saved. However, this doesn't change the fact that he decreed that some would not be. Correct?
 

OPC'n

Puritan Board Doctor

*waits for a slightly less laconic response*:book2:


I'm just kidding with you, bud! I figured I had to finish as I began to make Bob happy. Seriously, maybe my last comment before this one would be more to everyone's liking than the rest of my comments. Cheers! :)

-----Added 1/28/2009 at 10:14:37 EST-----

urrr....comment #59
 

TsonMariytho

Puritan Board Freshman
I don't think this question should have been nearly as controversial as it has been regarded in follow up discussion. It didn't ask "In your preferred sense of the words, does God desire all men to be saved", but rather, it asked, "Is there a [i.e. any common] sense in which God desires all men to be saved?"

That net is cast pretty widely, and the case has been made pretty well above by several people, that the Bible speaks of God's desire or "preference" that even the dying wicked turn to him and be saved. It's really the same concept as God's revealed "preference" that Adam not sin in the first place.

We can explain it as God's revealed, commanding will, as distinct from his inscrutable, predestinating will, and it's great that we can make that theological distinction; but the fact remains that speaking of God's revealed will as God's "desire" is both Biblical and appropriate. (Speaking of God's predestinating will in the same way is also appropriate. Please don't ask me to explain how this works, because I don't understand it.)

Eze 18:23 Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?
...
Eze 18:32 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD; so turn, and live."
...
Eze 33:11 Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel?​

It's the same concept as with James 2:24. Since we differ from Martin Luther on the composition of the canon of scripture, we must affirm that there is a sense in which "a person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (a verbatim quote from James). Explaining that verse in light of other scriptures is a tricky task, but simply affirming that it's true "in a sense" should be easy for us, who accept all scripture as God-breathed.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
I pulled Calvin's commentary on that specific verse. It looks pretty good and it's what I've thought previously. God has two wills- both His sovereign/secret will, and His revealed will.

John Calvin:
4 "Who wishes that all men may be saved. ...And may come to the acknowledgment of the truth. Lastly, he demonstrates that God has at heart the salvation of all, because he invites all to the acknowledgment of his truth. This belongs to that kind of argument in which the cause is proved from the effect; for, if
“the gospel is the power of God for salvation to every one that believeth,” (Romans 1:16,)
it is certain that all those to whom the gospel is addressed are invited to the hope of eternal life. In short, as the calling is a proof of the secret election, so they whom God makes partakers of his gospel are admitted by him to possess salvation; because the gospel reveals to us the righteousness of God, which is a sure entrance into life.
Hence we see the childish folly of those who represent this passage to be opposed to predestination." End quote.

John Frame a well respected theologian and accomplished biblical exegete at RTS put it this way:

"God does not intend to bring about everything he values, but he never fails to bring about what he intends" (113).

So, yes, God does desire all men to be saved, but that does not supercede His sovereign election which takes precedence. Rather, His desire is seen in that it extends through the gospel to all men- hence His 'desiring that all men be saved' but only those whom He has secretly called respond- called by His irresistible grace. Hope this helps!

Refs:
Commentary on Timothy, Titus, Philemon | Christian Classics Ethereal Library
Enjoying God Ministries

-----Added 1/28/2009 at 08:52:18 EST-----

As a cautionary note:

"If we say that God does not desire all men to be saved" - then it's as if we are saying that the gospel should not be preached to every creature. We are commanded to preach the gospel, we leave the salvation of the elect up to God. To say otherwise is to lean towards hyper-Calvinism which is something I hope none of us desire. If we lean, we might step, and next thing we know were not sharing the gospel with others because in our minds 'they are not elect.' Which is only in the jurisdiction of God- to tread there is to tread in hypocrisy and error, upon His holy ground. May our feet not be found there.

I realize many have answered for the sake of the truth here in sincerity, saying that 'no' God does not desire all men to be saved otherwise they would be! And certainly that is true in His sovereign will, but His revealed will is that He desires 'all men to be saved' in that His gospel is preached to all. I do not intend to stain anyone's character or reputation on this board, I only feel there is a misunderstanding in this scripture and I'm trying to give light on it. I'm only saying the same thing John Calvin said in regard to it- not because it was him, but simply because I believe it's a right understanding of that scripture.


How can we say that God does desire all men to be saved? Who does the saving? God. If he desires all men to be saved, then he desires to save all men, since they cannot be saved another way.

In regards to your assertion that believing that God does not want all men to be saved means that we would also believe that we should not preach the Gospel to every creature, I disagree. Since we do not know which specific men God desires to save, we will still go and preach to all.

I do not think God's revealed will says anything contrary to his secret will. (Thus, I do not think there are separate wills of God.) In God's revealed will, we can see that God will have mercy on whom he has mercy.
 

jbotkin

Puritan Board Freshman
How can we say that God does desire all men to be saved? Who does the saving? God. If he desires all men to be saved, then he desires to save all men, since they cannot be saved another way.

In regards to your assertion that believing that God does not want all men to be saved means that we would also believe that we should not preach the Gospel to every creature, I disagree. Since we do not know which specific men God desires to save, we will still go and preach to all.

I do not think God's revealed will says anything contrary to his secret will. (Thus, I do not think there are separate wills of God.) In God's revealed will, we can see that God will have mercy on whom he has mercy.

Then why aren't all Christians (or all people for that matter) perfectly holy all the time?

1 Thess 4:3-7 - For this is the will of God, your sanctification: [2] that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body [3] in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.

Or why isn't all foolish, unbelieving people put to shame by the good works of God's people?

1 Peter 2:15 - "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people."

We could go on, but I think if we are allowing our theology to be built up from the text itself, we have to say that God reveals in his Word that there are two levels of his willing: a) a general desire for some things, and b) a decree that all things will come to pass the way they do, including certain violations of willing "a."

I say this as committed Calvinist in regards to election and limited atonement. But in reading certain texts (like those that have been cited above), I have to think that there is some sense in which God's love for his creation means that he doesn't delight in the death of the wicked and in some way desires them to be saved even as a human father desires his children to always obey him. Yet, in the mystery of his perfect character, God still chooses to save only a select group for himself out of all humanity.

I love theological precision, but think there is still a place where you stand back at the majestic glory of God and claim mystery on some things.
 

he beholds

Puritan Board Doctor
How can we say that God does desire all men to be saved? Who does the saving? God. If he desires all men to be saved, then he desires to save all men, since they cannot be saved another way.

In regards to your assertion that believing that God does not want all men to be saved means that we would also believe that we should not preach the Gospel to every creature, I disagree. Since we do not know which specific men God desires to save, we will still go and preach to all.

I do not think God's revealed will says anything contrary to his secret will. (Thus, I do not think there are separate wills of God.) In God's revealed will, we can see that God will have mercy on whom he has mercy.

Then why aren't all Christians (or all people for that matter) perfectly holy all the time?

1 Thess 4:3-7 - For this is the will of God, your sanctification: [2] that you abstain from sexual immorality; 4 that each one of you know how to control his own body [3] in holiness and honor, 5 not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God; 6 that no one transgress and wrong his brother in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, as we told you beforehand and solemnly warned you. 7 For God has not called us for impurity, but in holiness.
Well, I can say that our sanctification is occurring, and will be certainly completed when we are raised again.

Or why isn't all foolish, unbelieving people put to shame by the good works of God's people?

1 Peter 2:15 - "For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people."

Perhaps this is the way God created the world so that it is a simple fact that good does silence ignorance. I don't know, I'd have to look up that verse.

We could go on, but I think if we are allowing our theology to be built up from the text itself, we have to say that God reveals in his Word that there are two levels of his willing: a) a general desire for some things, and b) a decree that all things will come to pass the way they do, including certain violations of willing "a."

I say this as committed Calvinist in regards to election and limited atonement. But in reading certain texts (like those that have been cited above), I have to think that there is some sense in which God's love for his creation means that he doesn't delight in the death of the wicked and in some way desires them to be saved even as a human father desires his children to always obey him. Yet, in the mystery of his perfect character, God still chooses to save only a select group for himself out of all humanity.

I do not think the wicked are children of God, though. We become children only through his gracious adoption, and we know He does not adopt all men, so I don't think the second part of your argument fits. I do not understand why God would not fulfill His own desire, when He is fully capable. And I don't think He'd have a wicked desire, so if He did desire something, it would be righteous. And I think that He would make every righteous choice.

I love theological precision, but think there is still a place where you stand back at the majestic glory of God and claim mystery on some things.

I agree that we will not be able to know all things. But I'm not sure that we will know which things will be understood before we try to understand them. (Nor will we know which things are incomprehensible before we attempt to comprehend them.) So, I think it is too soon for me to claim mystery on this certain thing.
 
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