Quinta, 23 de Março de 2017
   
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God loves everyone, but does not save everyone!

I recently received the following message:

Grace and peace, Pastor Marcos.

I have a question about 1 Timothy 2.3-4. You once said that this text means God really wants all men to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth.

However, I think this contradicts the doctrine of unconditional election. See the contradiction in the syllogism below:

1) God chooses the elect according to his sovereign will;

2) God wants all men to be saved;

3) God chooses only some to salvation.

Conclusion: God's will was NOT pleased. According to this reasoning, there would be something greater limiting the will of God. Therefore it seems to me that the only way for Calvinism to solve this issue is to say that in the text of 1 Timothy 2.3-4 "all men" does not mean "all". If so, God's will would be limited by some factor. What factor would that be?

I’m sorry for extending the question. I’m looking forward to the answer.

Brother Z

.................

Brother Z’s question hangs on the head of many people. So I decided to share with all the response I sent to him:

Dear Brother Z,

Thank you for raising this important issue. I hope to be able to help you with the writing below.

Beforehand, I should highlight that syllogism is not the best way to understand theology. Such method has been broadly used in the scholastic period (when they tried to join theology with philosophy) and the result was not getting biblical truths, far from it, a model of Scripture so far-fetched that the advent of the Protestant Reformation was made necessary to solve things a little.

Another caveat I must present is that I do believe God wants all men to be saved. However, I think it would not be unreasonable if we understood “all men” in the text of 1 Timothy in the same sense expressed in vv.1-2. Look at these verses closely when Paul says to pray for "all men" and then gives an example of what he has in mind saying "for kings ...". This shows that "all men" in this passage can indeed refer to men types, such as kings, governors, slaves, Gentiles, Jews ... This is the clear sense of "all men" in v.2 (what is more, it would be impossible praying for every individual in the world) and may as well be the meaning of the expression in v.4.

Even so, I believe God wants all men to be saved. I'm just saying that the text of 1 Timothy 2 is not the best one to defend it, as the Arminians suppose.

What I said, though, leads to the question raised by your syllogism. How can we accomodate this with the doctrine of election? I'll try to explain it presenting a sequence of truths:

1. God wants all men to be saved, for he is a God of infinite love;

2. God also wants to show his righteous wrath over sinful humanity - Romans 9:22 (this part of the facts was not taken into account in your syllogism);

3. To combine these two desires, God does not act based on his "inclinations" (neither his love nor his anger), but by means of an elective decree (the consent or pleasure of his will, mentioned in Ephesians 1) . That's where his emotional desire gives way to his enacted will;

4. Thus, by election, God fulfills both his infinite love and his righteous wrath.

See that in order to understand this, one must consider that God wants ALSO to show his wrath against sin. Arminians do not understand it (or do not accept it) because they paint kind of a santa-clausy God, who just wants to show love - a god created the popular mind. They err not obeying what Paul says in Romans 11:22: "Behold then the kindness and severity of God ...". Note that your syllogism left you in a difficult situation because you did not consider the severity of God, but only his kindness. Therefore you faced the dilemma of which factor allegedly prevents the will of God to save only. But when you look at the full biblical teaching, we realize that the whole will of God (which involves saving and PUNISHING) was not frustrated. Instead, by electing, his desire to save and his desire to punish were both satisfied.

Now, I would like to look at the problem you presented highlighting the Arminian drama. Arminians insist that God wants everyone to be saved, period. The problem is, obviously, not all are saved. Then there is the problem you raised: what is the factor that prevents God's will of taking place? The Arminian answer is simple: the "free will", i.e., human will prevents the divine will to take place. Ooops! Do you realize where we're getting to? Human will prevents divine will to take place!

This already hurts, but Arminians snap out of this very easily saying "God allows it to be so because he respects human will and therefore leaves the decision to men." Ooops! How is that? A God of love, whose only desire is to save everyone, sees millions of people make a decision that leads to eternal hell and he lets them move on out of respect!!!

Bring it to our human experience. I see a person make the decision of drinking poison. So as I love them very much and respect their freedom, I allow them to drink. What do you think? Is it all right? Knowing that, you would say: "What a fantastic person this Granconato is! How much respect he has for the freedom of people". Would you say that? Oh, please! Instead you’d ask me, "Pastor, why didn’t you stop them? How could you be so indifferent and let them fulfill that crazy decision?". If I answer that I acted out of love and respect wouldn’t you say I'm crazy?

Well, the Arminian God is like this: he only wants to save everyone, but out for "respect", he allows millions to take the poison and does nothing, leaving everything for man to decide. Whoever decides to have faith is lucky. Whoever doesn’t or can’t, so sorry…

But the biblical God interferes. He knows that men, because of the sinful nature and the corruption of their heart, if left at their own mercy, all will choose to take the poison. So he interferes, freeing millions of people, speaking to their hearts, convincing them of the danger, working gently in their will, breaking their evil mind, granting them faith (God's gift), calling them by name with his sweet voice and leading them to the Son.

Why doesn’t God act like that with everyone? Because he also wants to show his wrath.

Why did he choose me to show his love and my neighbor to show his wrath? This is the abyss of the cross! Nothing good was seen in us. That’s the mystery! Totally free grace. Before the abyss I bow with a mind full of questions (why did he choose me?), but also with a heart full of gratitude (thank you for choosing me, Lord).

Well, I think I've already written much and hope to have helped a little.

God bless you in your search. The theology of salvation is a fantastic adventure. I hope you grow in this way and rejoice with the truths of the inscrutable grace of our sovereign God.

My brotherly embrace,

Pr. Marcos Granconato
Soli Deo gloria

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