Tuesday, April 19, 2011


1 Timothy 2:4, “(God) desires all men to be saved.”

The word “desires” translates a Greek term which means “’to will, to wish,’ implying volition and purpose” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary). The King James Version translated the phrase: “Who will have all men to be saved.” God’s “wants” all men to be saved.

Empirical evidence argues against this glorious truth. All men are not saved. The vast majority of people continue in open rebellion against God. The broad way that leads to destruction is well traveled. Countless warnings of pending judgment remind us that God’s desire—that all men be saved--will not be ultimately realized (Cf. 2 Thess. 1:8-9). How can a sovereign and omnipotent God fail in that which He wants? Philosophical arguments are devised to resolve this theological dilemma, but satisfying answers lie hidden in subjection to His “unsearchable judgments and unfathomable ways” (Rom. 11:33; Cf. Isa. 55:8-9). We must exercise care lest we allow errant thinking to dilute our confidence in God’s desire to see others come to “a knowledge of the truth” (1Tim. 2:4).

The truth of this verse speaks to the benevolent nature of God. “God is love” (1 John 4:16). He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:32). He sought out Adam and Eve in the garden and spoke to them of a future redeemer. Countless Old Testament types and prophecies foretold of His coming. God purposed to send His Son: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law” (Gal. 4:4-5). He “gave Himself a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:6). As the song puts it “He gave His life, what more could He give.” We know something of strong desires. No desire—this side of heaven—has been met with greater expression than God’s desire to see sinners saved. The clear testimony of His sincerity is the sacrifice of His Son upon the cross (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16).

His desire—that all men be saved--is akin to that of the father who welcomed back his repentant son: “But while he was still a long way off,” the Scripture says, “his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him” (Luke 15:20). God’s desire is evident in the response of the angels: “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10). His desire is at present withholding the floodgates of divine judgment: “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

“For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men” (Tit. 2:11). The grace of God has made salvation available to all, but not all will receive it. The problem lies not with God, but man. In these difficult days it is easy for us to become disheartened by the hard-heartedness of sinners. Theological diversions, personal fears, and witnessing “failures” tend to discourage us in our zeal for evangelism. It is good for us to remind ourselves that God’s desire is for the salvation of sinners. Our unsaved family members, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and classmates are amongst the “all men” the verse speaks of. He desires their salvation. He is ultimately the one who saves, but He has privileged us to have a part in it.

It is good when our desires are aligned with God’s. So it was with the Apostle Paul. He said, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is salvation” (Rom. 10:1). He spoke thus of his Jewish brethren, but his desire and prayer was likewise for all men. He was burdened to share the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16; 2 Cor. 5:14). He made himself a slave to all, “that (he) might win the more” (1 Cor. 9:19). He was willing to expend himself and suffer hardship for the sake of the gospel (2 Tim. 2:8-9). We are at our best, as believers, when that which matters most to God matters most to us.

God desires for all men to be saved. Do you desire the same? The Spirit of God is at work in us to fill our hearts with Christlike compassion for lost sinners. The “Titanic” of humanity is soon to be shipwrecked. Most are unaware, let us warn them. Most don’t know what to do, let us direct them to the One who is “mighty to save.” Let us do all we can to “Rescue the Perishing…”

Tho’ they are slighting Him, still He is waiting,

Waiting the penitent child to receive;

Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently,

He will forgive if they only believe.

Rescue the perishing, Care for the dying;

Jesus is merciful, Jesus will save.

Pastor Jerry

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