May 19, 2014

Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

When I got up this morning, I didn't want to go to work. I wanted to stay in bed for a while. Yet, I got up, got dressed, and went in to work just like I do every Monday.

Why did I do it? After all, I didn't want to go to work. I wanted to stay in bed, so why didn't I?

Well, actually, that's not quite true. I did want to go to work. I wanted to go to work more than I wanted to stay in bed. If that weren't the case, I would have stayed in bed. Even though, in the abstract, what I wanted to do was stay in bed, in actuality, I wanted to go to work more than I wanted to get a few more hours of sleep. I wanted to, not because there is anything intrinsically appealing about my job, but because it is a means to an end. My job is a way to make a living, and I've made a commitment to my employer to show up on time and do my job well in exchange for a fair wage. These things (honesty, punctuality, loyalty, discipline, my livelihood) are more valuable to me than the relatively paltry benefits of staying in bed a bit longer.

Even though, all things being equal, I prefer sleep to work, when all things are considered, I actually prefer to get up and go to work in the morning. I can truthfully say, then, that I desire to stay in bed in the morning. I can say this truthfully despite the fact that there are other considerations that make the option of getting up and going to work more appealing overall.

This is how I understand the passages of Scripture which teach that God desires the salvation of all men. All things being equal, God desires the salvation of all individuals (Ezekiel 18:23, 32; 33:11). The fact that God has created some for wrath as part of his plan to reveal his glory in salvation through judgment (Romans 9:22-23; Proverbs 16:4) in no way mitigates this. When taken in the abstract, God desires the salvation of all men. However, when all things are considered, there is something that God desires more—the revelation of his own glory.

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