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

Discussion in 'Calvinism & The Doctrines of Grace' started by Skyler, Jan 26, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    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?
  2. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

  3. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    How helpful. It's all becoming clear now. :D

    Seriously though. "No" what?
  4. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    Sarah, come on, you can do better than that. :think:

    In that scripture says explicitly that God desires that everyone should be saved then there must be a 'sense' in which it is true. Now back up and go at this again. This is a great question and one you will be confronted with over and over.
  5. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    I don't think "all kinds of men" is doing gymnastics. Rather, it is interpreting the passage in context. Does the passage teach that God desires the salvation of all men individually or indiscriminately?

    Even if this passage could be legitimately be interpreted in either sense (which I doubt), then it should properly be taken off the table as weighing in favor of either view -- since ambiguous passages should be interpreted in light of clearer passages related to a specific issue.
  6. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    But there's no gymnastic necessity in order to understand that the "all people" found in both 1 Tim 2:1 and 2:4 does not mean each and every person on the face of the earth. The passage is discussing why there should be no class of person - commoner, king, slave, etc., for whom prayers aren't offered, because God calls all sorts of people to salvation. So we cannot refuse to pray for kings simply because they are kings - nor can we refuse to pray for slaves, simply because they are despised as slaves. Rather, we are called to a universal sort of prayer - to pray for all kinds of people because God is in the business of calling people from every tribe, tongue and nation to Himself.

    To require "all people" to mean "each and every individual person" in those verses is to do an injustice to the text. "all sorts of people" is a perfectly good rendering of the underlying Greek in each case, and carries with it the thought that is fairly clear from the context of those verses.

    So, no - there is no sense in which God desires the salvation of each and every individual - I truly believe we are inserting our own sympathies into such verses and forcing a reading that's not there if we assert that such a reading must be made.
  7. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    Does God's desire that all men be saved originate from His will of decree? This is an important question. If God decrees that all men be saved, then all will. Now, if His desire does not come from His will of decree, in what sense does he desire all men to be saved? This builds on brother Bob's post. We certainly will be confronted with this question time and time again.

    Is it possible that God's desire in 1 Timothy 2 is in harmony with the general call of the gospel; that all are to repent and believe?

    Acts 17:30 "Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent..."
  8. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    Great question, and I think the answer is Yes. This is one of those great mysteries that I don't think our finite minds will ever grasp. It's easy for us to think "God does whatever he wants to do", but it is SO much more complicated than that.

    Did God desire for his Son to to die a horrible death? I don't think the answer is as simple as Yes or No.

    I think God DOES desire for all men to be saved. I think God DOES desire for all men to sing his praises. Does it happen? No. It's a mystery. I don't understand the desires of God and how they mix with his sovereign will.
  9. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist 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"?
  10. PresbyDane

    PresbyDane Puritanboard Doctor

    Skyler I think this is a really good question.
    Being reformed I believe that God has predestined some of the people of the world to become his people, eventhough I do not know who or how many.
    That being said I must admit that I have been thinking about just this question and still am to a sertain point.
    I think that what I believe, and stated above is also why sjonee answered no!
    (sorry sjonee if that is not the case)
    I have found Gods election of us to be the most peace giving and loyal to his word interpretation that there is, and I will not let i go.
    But, back to the but...
    I do accationally meet verses in scripture that lets me think that in some way God wants everybody to come to a knowledge of him (that would maybe fit in with God being a God of love)
    But I also see how God is a God of justice, and how these two things fit together, is out of my grasp of understanding.
    It creates two questions for me, which fit in with your own question
    1: Why does God save anybody? (as a justified God he did not have to and to me this is the most interesting question, and..
    2: Why does God not save everybody? (as God and that a God of love, he could, this is also an interesting question, eventhough a lesser one in my opinion.
    But basically I think that why God does or does not do things, is entirely up to him, he has told us what we need to know i.e. "Believe me" and has told us that those who do that will be the saved ones.
  11. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    So God is powerless to bring about what he desires? Or is he double-minded, wanting one thing and bringing about that which is diametrically opposed to it? Does it make any sense at all to speak of God as desiring the salvation of him upon whom with full and perfect satisfaction he pours forth his wrath?

    -----Added 1/26/2009 at 11:40:47 EST-----

    Most certainly. He was pleased to bruise him, as the prophet says in Isaiah 53, which, before you object, does NOT mean he gleefully subjected Christ to the Cross. It simply means that it was the Father's desire that the Son be so subjected to suffering, curse and death.
  12. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    No, I don't think God in any sense desires that every human being be saved otherwise they would be. I don't think He gets His jollies out of sending people to hell, but how would His grace be shown if there were no one going to hell? His grace is His glory and He won't deny Himself His glory. I believe that "all people" means some from every tribe and nation etc.
  13. Tripel

    Tripel Puritan Board Senior

    I agree with you. It was part of his plan for salvation, so it had to happen. In that sense, absolutely, God desired it to happen. But I think it is fair to say that in another sense, God did not desire that his holy Son suffer on the cross. A different type of "desire" I guess. Maybe I'm speaking nonsense.

    -----Added 1/26/2009 at 11:47:12 EST-----

    I don't think it is a question of power or powerlessness. God is not limited in his power. If God chose to do so, he could have elected all of mankind.

    I don't know that "double-minded" is the right way to phrase it, but I don't think everything in God's eternal will is pleasing to him. For example, God does not delight in the destruction of the wicked, yet it is in his will to do so. Maybe I am confusing things by talking about multiple types of "desire".
  14. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    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.
  15. toddpedlar

    toddpedlar Iron Dramatist Staff Member

    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.

  16. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    See, Bob, I didn't need to do better than my original answer! I knew these guys would be on this one like white on rice! :wwbd::D
  17. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    I can hear the teenage agnostic after reading this thread... "Man, that God dude sure sounds 'flicted!"... :doh:
  18. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    We also need to deal with 2 Peter 3:9
    and Ezek. 18:23
    and a related question:

    Does the Lord truly mourn over the lost?

    -----Added 1/26/2009 at 12:16:35 EST-----

    No you DID have to do better than a one word answer. I've had people, especially moms, walk out of Bible studies I was teaching over this very question. As Todd already pointed out, there is no question that has more sentimental force behind it than this one. We have to have a good, solid answer that anyone can understand and doesn't sound like mental gymnastics.

  19. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    What God desires, he does.

    - Whatever His soul desires, that He does, (Job 23:13).

    - Our God is in heaven; He does whatever He pleases, (Psalm 115:3).

    - Whatever the Lord pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deep places, (Psalm 135:6).

    - I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure,' (Isaiah 46:9-10).

    - [God] does according to His will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand or say to Him, 'What have You done?' (Daniel 4:35).

    If he desired that all men without exception be saved, they would be.
  20. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

    Any who? Any of you.

    -----Added 1/26/2009 at 12:28:24 EST-----

    The absence of pleasure is not necessarily mourning.

    BTW, can somebody tell me how to do the 'add' thingy?

    Now I'm really confused???
  21. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    That's my question. Do I?

    If the Bible teaches that, I most certainly do. ;)

    Anyway. It seems to me, from the context of the chapter, that "all men" would refer to mankind in general. Not necessarily all men as in each and every person, but all men as in humanity.

    Maybe like saying "Jesus died for sinners"?
  22. Ronnie

    Ronnie Puritan Board Freshman

    Does God desire His people to break His law?

    The question that was asked was if God desires their salvation in any sense. I think a passage like the one in Ezekiel 18:23 makes a strong case that the answer is yes.
  23. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    :wwbd: :popcorn:
  24. charliejunfan

    charliejunfan Puritan Board Senior

    I just heard this from my fiancee Nikki, She says that God desires all men be saved only in the sense that He commanded all men to believe the gospel. I think that that is a very good way to look at it, wooo!
  25. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Could you have both?

    I've heard from a few sources that John Calvin was a bit ambiguous on the point of limited atonement. Dr. Curt Daniel commented that he never explicitly propounded limited atonement, and there were several places where he implicitly seemed to promote unlimited atonement, to some extent.

    I'm still working my way through his messages on election so limited atonement is several hours of listening away. :)

    Calvin said, If I recall correctly, that Jesus' atonement was sufficient for all but efficient only for his elect.

    I'm not suggesting an Arminian view of atonement, in limiting its power but not its scope. I'm thinking perhaps there is a sense in which the atonement is limited in power and universal in scope, but unlimited in power for the chosen people.

  26. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    It is Charlie and that is the secret vs. revealed will (or decretive vs. preceptive) argument. Deut 29:29

    Here is how Edwards said it:

  27. Jimmy the Greek

    Jimmy the Greek Puritan Board Senior

    Nikki sounds like a keeper. ;)

    As Bawb says, this is related to God's preceptive will vs decretive will. God's preceptive will establishes what man ought to do and that which is in-keeping-with and agreeable to God's nature, but it is not volitional as is his decretive will.

    This distinction is made by Turretin and Edwards among many others. It is taking God's preceptive will and assigning volitional desire to it that causes the problems we see in sloppy theology today.
  28. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    A fascinating observation of this question is that it really does come from sentiment and a sentiment so strong that we feel defensive about it and try to save God's nice guy image.

    Fact is, this question should be the problem of the arminian. If they really want to push the idea that God desires no one to be lost then they are defending a god who is weak and can't accomplish what he wants. This is called open theism and it's most notable supporter is Clark Pinnock.

    This question really points to the weakness of arminianism. A weakling god is the only intellectually honest conclusion that one can draw if they answer in the affirmative (to the original post).

    If someone asks you a question like this, you need to first show them that there is a bigger question at stake then the freewill of man. It's also easy to demonstrate that the arminian is putting sentiment above a good hermeneutic.
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2009
  29. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    So, Bob, did I answer the question solidly and understandably without bending over backwards? :candle: I liked your last answer...I thought at first you were saying something different...I thought you were a secrete Arminian. :eek: :(
  30. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    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?
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page