Post by bigwavedave on Sept 12, 2008 16:30:12 GMT -5
I hate titles, but for lack of a better term, I am somewhat more Calvinist (or Reformed if you prefer) in my understanding of Scripture. Not necessarily because of John Calvin (which is why I don't particularly like the term "Calvinist"; I've never read a word by John Calvin), but because I have seen so many of those truths in Scripture.
Anyway, I came across a passage the other day that threw me for a loop and I was wondering what you think about it. The passage is 1 Tim. 2:1-6, specifically verses 3 and 6. Verse 3 states that God desires ALL people to be saved. Verse 6 says that Jesus died as a ransom for ALL. This seems to contradict other passages that teach predestination and limited atonement. And since I don't believe the Bible ever contradicts itself, I was curious to your thoughts on this matter.
Post by Mike Miller on Sept 14, 2008 6:11:56 GMT -5
Excellent question. I too have Calvinistic leanings, but I prefer the term "Reformed Theology" as it carries less baggage. Also, though the term "Calvinism" refers to a system of belief, and not to all of John Calvin's beliefs, I get tired of having to explain that.
As I begin to answer the question, let me refer you to the following paragraph which appeared in an earlier post on this site called "How Many Wills in God?" Part of my response:
Essentially, I am definitely of the conviction that there are two wills in God. Different labels have been used—sovereign will and moral will; efficient will and permissive will; revealed will and secret will; decretive will and perceptive will—but I prefer the terminology of Jonathan Edwards: “will of command” and “will of decree.” In a nutshell, the clear testimony of Scripture is that everything works in accordance with the will of God (Ephesians 1:11, for example). At the same time, we know that God has commanded certain things which are disobeyed. Therefore, how can it be that God “wills” that we do not murder, but his “will” was for Christ to be murdered? Well, it isn’t too difficult to see that either God is schizophrenic or He has two different wills. The simple solution, not only logically, but based on the testimony of Scripture (compare Exodus 20:13 with Acts 2:23; 4:27-28 as one of many examples), is that God wills and causes everything to come to pass (will of decree), but that for these things to come to pass, people must frequently violate his rules (will of command). The Ten Commandments, for example, are part of God’s will of command—the things which He says do and don’t do. His will of decree is what actually does happen in all circumstances.
So, since the clear testimony of Scripture is (1) God commands all people to repent (Acts 17:30), (2) God does whatever He wants (Psalm 115:3), and (3) God does not save everyone, then either the Bible contradicts itself or there is another explanation. Thorough study of Scripture will reveal that God's will of command is for all people to be saved, but that His will of decree is not to save everyone. This is like the different kinds of call. There is a general call that goes out to everyone, but an effectual call that goes only to the elect (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
Therefore, 1 Timothy 2:4 teaches that the will of God ("desires" is the same word for "wills") is for all to be saved. That is His will of command (revealed will), but not His will of decree (secret will).
Now, when it comes to verse 6, I see that as meaning that Jesus ransomed all those who will be saved. But why? Isn't that forcing meaning on the text? No. If we believe that He actually paid the ransom for everyone, then everyone is saved. That is universalism. Also, if Jesus endured the wrath of God and satisfied that wrath for everyone (propitiation), then God would be unjust to send anyone to hell. That would amount to a double punishment for sins--once poured out on Jesus and then again on those whose debt has been paid. The only explanation is that this verse states that Jesus paid the ransom for all those who will be saved.
Now, let me just say as an aside that some will say, "All means all." But I suggest that those who say that don't really believe it. For example, in Matthew 3:5-6, they probably don't believe that literally every single person in Jerusalem and Judea went to see John and were baptized by him. That would include the Pharisees and the Roman officials. And in Acts 9:35, surely no one would argue that every single person in Lydda and Sharon turned to the Lord. So, context and a fair reading based on the rest of Scripture must determine our theology--not unfounded assertions ("all means all") or the selection of a few misunderstood verses.