Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Which is it?

"Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth." -- I Timothy 2:4

"There is a twofold theological problem in this verse: the first aspect of the problem pertains to the will of God: the second aspect of the problem pertains to the universal term 'all' as it relates to the salvation of men (i.e., the extent of the atonement). Does God desire to save all mankind absolutely; that is, each and every individual? Or does God desire to save all mankind relatively; that is, all men without distinction of race, nationality, or social position, not all men without exception?" From An Exegetical Study of 1 Timothy 2:4 by
Gary D. Long

A comparison of ideas may be made by reading
The Saviour of All Men, by George Zeller and An Exegetical Study of 1Timothy 4:10, by Gary D. Long


Jim1927 said...

Most theolgians of the reformed bent believe the "blood of Christ was sufficient for ALL, but efficient for SOME."

Whilst it is God's desire that all men should be saved, MAN made his choice in Adam. Now SOME are the benefactors of God's gracious gift of salvation in His specific calling in election. So, the general desire is true, but the specific action is fact. God does not, as some would have us believe, predestine some to heaven and others to hell, but He, in His own wisdom, passes by those who already chose hell.

The older I get the more humble I become knowing the fact that God chose me to salvation...Why me, Lord? I shall never be able to answer that question this side of glory. The fact is, election and eternal security does not lead to pride and reckless abandon of biblical truths, yea, it leads to blessed worship and humility in the presence of the King.



Will Fitzgerald said...

Who can probe the mind of God?

Although it is a good and holy thing to consider theology, at the end of the day, we need to approach such topics with the greatest humility.

It particular, it seems dangerous to use language like "extreme Calvinists" (as in Zeller's article).

Long's outline is much more neutral, and provides a better basis for discussion; it, at least, tries to clarify terms.

For example, one could answer each of the objections to the soteriological interpretations easily enough, I think; for example, the 'universalist' one by understanding that 'Savior' can mean differences of degree as well as of kind--in particular, we'd all agree that it's better to be saved now, rather than later (and so Paul urges Timothy to labor as Paul has been laboring). Not that I'd agree with this, but at least, the clear distinctions being made allow us to understand one another.

My point is--let's be charitable to one another. In the end, it (probably?) won't be our correct theology that God will commend, but our actions, as Matthew 25:31-46 clearly teaches.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Good points, Will.

I think there is good reason to step back and look at theological discussions somewhat as entertaining exercises of the mind. I do not mean that flippantly or disrespectfully to the idea of theological discussion -- but given the overall tenor of the New Testament, it seems there is much more to commend Godly behaviour as opposed to getting upset over points of theology that aren't spelled out clearly. Now, I do believe "Salvation is of the Lord" is spelled out, and clearly. But the details of exactly how He did/does it is often our attempt of logically sorting a lot of inferences we make from Scripture.

amity said...

What I had always *assumed* about this scripture is that it teaches that God saves all the elect (eternally), especially those that believe (the regenerate, or alternatively those who are blessed to hear ande believe the gospel preached, for I don't believe that all elect do hear the gospel).

all men = elect
them that believe = regenerate, or gospel believers

I guess no one agrees with me, so it is time to rethink...

"Savior of all men," if understood to mean universalism, is not consistent with the rest of the Bible, so that is out. The Arminian postion of "potential" salvation does not seem to fit either, because the wording of this passage is clear. God saves all men.

Makes me glad I am not a theologian, frankly! When Paul penned these words they were no doubt crystal clear to everyone of his day (ahem, I mean all believers, of course.... see how naturally we use that universal term when we really mean a specific group). But somehow today they seem hard to understand.

However, I will defer to Gary Long!

amity said...

Obviously I meant I Timothy 4:10. I read all of the sources.