1 Timothy 2.1-4 and Romans 9.22-23 – Unconditional Election & God’s desire for all men to be saved
Posted: 21 August 2013 in 1 Timothy, Romans

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,”

The above passage from 1 Timothy is, of course, notorious as being problematic for Calvinist theology, but it seems to me that a resolution of the problem is not that hard to find.

To say that God wills the salvation of all men is effectively just another way of saying that God wills all men to obey him, and, if they did so, they would be saved. That is self evidently true, because, if it were not true, God could hardly hold men responsible for their disobedience and punish them accordingly.

And yet it is also clear from the Bible that only some people have their rebellious hearts reformed through the action of the Holy Spirit. So, in that sense, it is not God’s will that all men should be saved.

The scriptures do not have much to say about God’s motives for withholding his grace from those he chooses to reprobate. The only passage which does hint at a reason seems to be the one quoted above from Romans. The reason given is that, before all else, it is the Lord’s will to glorify himself. This he does by manifesting his justice in the punishment the reprobate, by showing mercy to an elect who would otherwise be equally deserving of punishment. In both cases he also manifests his absolute sovereignty in punishing whom he will, and in saving whom he will.

That seems shocking to modern sensibilities, in fact Paul expected it to be shocking to his contemporaries, but we need to remind ourselves that God created all things for himself. We, his creatures, have no right to expect that the universe should revolve around us, rather than around God and his holy and eternal will.

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1 Timothy 2.1-4 and Romans 9.22-23 – Unconditional Election & God’s desire for all men to be saved

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