Archive for the ‘God’s Will for the Salvation of All Men’ Category


Objection 3

Unconditional election stands directly opposed to God’s own desire that all be saved. Out of his universal love for all, God has a universal desire for the salvation of all sinners. Ezekiel 18:23; 1 Timothy 2:4; and 2 Peter 3:9 all teach, in their own ways, that God does not desire the wicked to perish but rather that he wills that all be saved. Since this is taught in Scripture, it simply cannot be the case that God unconditionally wills that others certainly perish. Election, then, must be conditional upon the freewill choices of human beings who reject God’s loving desire that all be saved.

Reply. My reply must be far briefer than this objection deserves, but thankfully other fine and more extensive treatments are available.40 The heart of the answer here is much like what we saw in the previous discussion. On the question of the will of God regarding salvation, the Bible represents God’s saving will in two ways, not one. Yes, Arminians are correct to point to passages teaching the will of God that all be saved. And many Calvinists, including myself, will grant that these texts teach the universal saving will of God, much as I also am fully convinced that the Bible teaches the universal love of God for all people. But the Bible’s teaching does not stop here. Rather, Scripture teaches also the specific and inviolable will of God that some surely and certainly be saved along with its teaching that God wills the salvation of all.41 The particular will of God surely and certainly to save some (i.e. the elect), stands alongside the universal saving will of God that all be saved. How can it be both ways? Consider just one pair of passages that illustrates these “two wills” of God, and then I’ll offer a few summary comments.

First Timothy 2:3-4 (HCSB) states, “This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (italics added), and 2 Timothy 2:24–26 (HCSB) says, “The Lord’s slave must not quarrel, but must be gentle to everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness. Perhaps God will grant them repentance to know the truth. Then they may come to their senses and escape the Devil’s trap, having been captured by him to do his will” (italics added). One feature common to both of these passages is that for people to be saved, they need to come to the knowledge of, or to know, “the truth.” Yet, while they share this in common, they differ insofar as in 1 Timothy 2:4 (HCSB) God “wants everyone to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,” but in 2 Timothy 2:25 (HCSB), God must “grant them repentance” for them “to know the truth” and be saved.

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Buy cialis online from Spain

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism




Who works all things after the counsel of his own will.

We proceed in the discussion of objections.

Objection 7. It is said, that God, in scripture, represents sin as contrary to his will, and. forbids it under the penalty of his severest indignation but this doctrine represents sin as taking place agreeably to his will; and if God represents sin as contrary, to his will, and at the same time teaches this doctrine he contradicts himself. It is said, that God, in scripture, expresses the greatest abhorrence of sin, but that if he has decreed the existence of sin, and employs his own agency in causing it to take place, then he must be well-pleased with sin; and therefore, he expresses an abhorrence which he does not feel, and acts a deceitful part. It is said, that God, in scripture says, that he wills not the death of the sinner; but that if this doctrine is true, he does will his death. And if he punishes his creatures for doing what he caused them to do, then he must delight in their misery: which represents God as a most wicked, false, cruel, and unfeeling tyrant.

Answer. Before we proceed directly to the consideration of this objection, let a few things be premised. First, let it be observed, that in order to make out a contradictions in the declarations of anyone, we must be certain than the words, which are supposed to contradict each other, are used, in both instances, in the same sense. For example, the scripture says, in one place, “Answer a fool according to his folly,” and in another place, “Answer not a fool according” to his folly.” Now, to make out a contradiction here,” we must be certain that the words are used in both places in the same sense for if they are used in different senses, the two passages may be perfectly consistent. Again, let it be observed, that an event may, at one time, be considered by itself alone, and spoken of in that point of view, without taking into consideration any of its connections and consequences; and it may, at another time, be considered, and spoken of with all its connections, consequences, relations, and dependencies. When spoken of in the former point of view, it is said to be spoken of a it is in itself considered j and when spoken of in tile latter point of view, it is said to be spoken of as it is upon the whole, all things considered. Once more, let it be observed, that a thing may sometimes be chosen for its own sake, without any reference to any other thing; and this is what is called being desirable in itself. As, for example, we choose happiness for its own sake, because it is desirable in itself. And again, a thing which is not desirable in itself; and which never could be chosen for its own sake, may be chosen for the sake of some other thing with which it is connected, and which may thereby be attained; and this is called being desirable on the whole. For instance, we may choose to suffer a small temporary evil, for the sake of some great and lasting good, which may thereby be attained. We may choose to suffer the pain of cutting off one of our limbs, which is very undesirable in itself; for the take of preserving our whole body from destruction. A wise and good parent may choose to inflict pain upon his undutiful child, not for its own sake, not because he delights in seeing his child suffer, for that is very undesirable in itself, but he chooses it for the sake of the child’s good, or for the good of the rest of his family, to deter them from the like disobedience. God chose that his Son should die, not for its own sake, be had no pleasure in the sufferings of his Son, in themselves considered, but he chose it for the sake of the salvation of sinners; he chose it, because, upon the whole considering the amazing worth of souls, and the great glory that will redound to his name from saving sinners, considering how much his law would be honored, and how clearly his hatred of sin would appear in the cross or Christ, all things being considered, he chose the death of his Son, as upon the whole a desirable event, though in itself considered nothing could be more undesirable. He chooses often to afflict his children in this world, not for its own sake, he does not delight in their sufferings, in themselves considered; but he does it for their good, he does it because all things considered it is desirable, and will prepare them. for a higher degree of happiness in heaven that they could otherwise enjoy. It must be evident that this distinction is well founded. For if it is riot, if God gave up his Son to die, and “put him to grief,” because he took pleasure in his sufferings, considered in themselves, if he afflicts his children in this world because he delights in their pain, he must be a malevolent being. But this is the character of Satan. Satan torments others because he delights in their misery in itself considered. This is pure malice, and cannot be ascribed to God. But if this distinction is well founded, as it certainly is, the way is prepared to remove the objection under consideration.

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Q. 52. Then let us hear your [the Reformed] proper opinion and explanation of all these points; and First, Whether God will not at all that all men should be saved?
A. God is naturally good and merciful towards all men.1 But also he is a just and angry God against the sins of men.2 Therefore he has indeed no pleasure in himself in the condemnation of any man, but wills that every man turn by repentance and be saved:3 Yet with this proviso, that he will also according to his Justice judge and punish those that will not be converted.4

Q. 53. But your men [the Reformed]  teach that by the secret will of his Beneplacitum, he will not at all that all and every man should be saved, though externally after the revealed will, Voluntate signi, he make show of it.
A. They speak with Luther of that will of God which he wills wholly and altogether, so that it must certainly be done, of which it is written: He does whatsoever he will, Psal. 115:3 and 135:6. Isa. 46:10. Which the School-Divines have especially called the will of his Beneplacitum, because it is only fulfilled by, his good pleasure: And of this no man will say, no not the Lutherans, themselves wills that all men necessarily or inability must be saved.

Besides, ours deny not that God wills the salvation of all men thus far he has testified it in his word as the sign of his will, to which also the secret will of his beneplacitum is not contrary, which also some with Damascen called the Antecedent will of God, because herein is considered what God willed in and for himself before our works, according to the will of his goodness and mercy.

Namely First, Voluntate approbante: That for himself he has not delight or pleasure in their destruction but rather in their weal and salvation, Ezek. 18:32, and 33:11, 1 Tim. 2:4, and 2 Pet. 3:9.

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Henry B. Smith (1815-1877) on the Will of God

   Posted by: CalvinandCalvinism


3. The secret and revealed will of God. This relates to what God keeps in his own counsel, and to what He has communicated: Deut. xxix. 29; Eom xi. 33. The same distinction is signified in somewhat barbarous Latin by the two phrases, voluntas signi; and voluntas placiti; This distinction used to be much insisted on in the discussion of the divine decrees: 1 Tim. ii. 4; 2 Pet. iii. 9. It was said to be the revealed will of God that all should be saved, the secret will or actual de termination in the matter, that some should be. A better point of view for this is found in the distinction between what God desires, in itself considered, and what He determines to bring to pass on the whole. In itself considered, He desires the happiness of every creature, but on the whole, He may not determine to bring this to pass.

Henry B. Smith, System of Christian Theology, 2nd ed., (New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1884), 31-32. [Underlining mine.]


Yea, but now you object that; God “does seriously exhort even Reprobates themselves to Believe, and Repent, though he has determined to give no Faith, nor Repentance to them. Therefore, if they cannot Believe or Repent of themselves,” (as we affirm), “ God cannot but dissemble with them, because he exhorts them into that, which they of themselves,” (without his aid, since Faith is a special gift), “can never do, and which himself has irrevocably decreed, not to name them to perform.

To this I answer, that if God himself, who knows the Hearts, the Estates of all men, should tell any Reprobate from Heaven, that they are Reprobates, that he had irrevocably decreed, never to work any Faith, or Repentance in them; and yet should come to such in particular, seriously exhorting them to Believe, to Repent, that so they might be saved, there were then some show of mockery, of double dealing in God, and this objection might perchance stand good. But here the case is otherwise. For though God does often times seriously exhort, yea entreat, even such to Believe, to Repent, as he has for ever rejected in his secret purpose, yet here is no delusion, no deceit at all.

First, because God himself, who knows the Hearts, and States of all men, does never speak immediately from Heaven to any Reprobates in particular, no yet invite them to Repentance, but he does it mediately by his Ministers,  who being but frail mortal men, and having no special Revelation, no Commission from Heaven, to inform them who are Reprobates, but only the Revealed Will, and Word of God, which determines not particular men’s estates, can never positively resolve, whether the particular persons to whom they preach be Reprobates, yea or no, so that they tender Grace, and Mercy to them, not as to Reprobates, or castaways, but as to the chosen Saints of God, for ought they know. Secondly, because those Reprobates, to whom this Exhortation, this tender of Grace is made, can never fully satisfy nor resolve themselves, but they are Reprobates, since they were never privy to God’s counsel, so that for ought they know their whole life is a time of Grace to them. Since then it is never revealed to the Ministers that offer Grace, nor yet to those whom this Grace is tendered, that they are Reprobates, or that God has determined to bestow no Grace upon them, neither the Ministers, nor the Reprobates to whom the Gospel is Preached, can truly say that God does Cozen them, because that unto themselves, and all others, there is a possibility, yea a probability, that they may be saved, since they know not, whether they are peremptorily rejected of the Lord or no.

But you will object, “That God himself does certainly know, that these very Reprobates, neither will, nor can Repent, because he has decreed to work no Repentance in them, therefore God must needs delude them, though they cannot discover it.”

To this I answer, that if Reprobates themselves (whose case you ought not to argue before themselves complain, especially against the Lord himself, who is Just and Righteous in all his ways, though we out of the shallowness of or own capacity can not discover him), can never discern that God deludes them, then how can such who prosecute this objection charge the Lord with Cozenage, or equivocation in his dealings, when as men cannot discern it? What are they now translated into gods, that they can thus disclose this hidden, veiled mystery, which all the Saints, and Reprobates in the World cannot espy, since God’s judgments (which is the highest eulogy that men’s pens can yield them), are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out? Doubtless, if there be never a Reprobate in the World, who can truly say that God deals falsely with him, in desiring his conversion, when as he never did intend it, because he could not satisfy himself, whether he were a Reprobate, yea, or no, then those who make this strange objection, must cease to charge God with Collusion, till they are able for to tax him of, or trace him in it, and that in their own cases only, not in other men’s, who rest perchance contended God’s pleasure, and complain of his dealing.

Secondly, though God does certainly know, that Reprobates neither can, nor will Repent, yet he does not Deceive them, by inviting, exhorting, persuading them to Repentance, because as God does not invite them to Faith, or Repentance, as they are Reprobates, so his decree of Reprobation (which only leaves them in that lost estate, wherein it found them at the first, and puts them into no worse condition), is not the immediate cause of of their infidelity, Impenitency, or natural Imbecility, but their own corrupt, and sinful Natures, which God is not bound in Justice for to cure. Indeed, if God himself should purposely bind them hand and foot in the chains of sin, and then should bid them walk, or run on to him in a serious manner, he might now be thought for to delude them, but this God does not, he casts no rubs, no blocks into their way, but what they cast themselves if they come not when he invites them, it is not because God himself does not enable them, but because they have so ensnared themselves in sins, and trespasses, that they have disabled themselves to come unto him as they ought to do, yea and might have done, had they continued in their first estate, so that they must here accuse themselves, not God.

Thirdly, when God does offer Grace to men, he doth not immediately infuse his Grace into their hearts, but he works it in them by the use of means: now Reprobates, when as God tenders Grace unto them do always slight, neglect, and vilify the means by which he offers, and conveys his Grace; so that if they miss of Grace, (as they always doe:) they cannot lay the fault on God, or say, that he intended not to Convert them; but they must take the blame upon themselves alone; because if they had used the means with care, and Conscience as they ought, and done that which was requisite on their parts; God would have wrought effectually by his Spirit in their hearts, for ought they could tell, or think to the contrary.

Fourthly, when God doth seriously invite us to Repentance, and true saving Faith; he doth not always peremptorily promise, much less resolve to work this Faith, and Repentance in our hearts, (for then they should be always wrought effectually in us, because God’s purposed,  God’s resolved Will, is always executed, and cannot be resisted:) but he does only seriously declare, what things he doth approve, and require in us, and what course wee ourselves must take, if we will be saved: A King may seriously wish and desire, that such a Subject of his were a Rich, or Honorable person; and with all inform him of the way and means to purchase Wealth and Honor; but yet he may not purposely resolve to make him such a one; God doth earnestly wish, Command, and desire, that all men should repent, and turn unto him, and that none should offend, or sin against him; but yet he hath not eternally purposed to cause them to repent, or to enable them to convert, and not to sin: for most men go on in sin, without repentance: in many things we offend all; and there is no man that lives; and sins not: God may desire something in his revealed Will, which he hath not decreed to effect in his secret Will: he desires not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should repent, and live; yet sinners always die in sin, without repentance: He desires, that all men should be saved, and that none should perish; yet we know, that few are saved and that most men perish: Since therefore God may command, desire, and require something in his revealed Will, which he hath not absolutely decreed to effect in his hidden Will; it follows not, that God doth therefore resolve to work effectually by his Grace in Reprobates, when as he offers means of Grace unto them: and so he mocks them not.

William Prynne, God, No Imposter, nor Delvder. Or, An answer to a Popish and Arminian Cavill, in the defence of Free-Will, and vniversall Grace; wherein Gods tender of Grace by the outward Ministry of the Gospell, to Reprobates who neither doe, nor can receive it; is vindicated from those aspersions of equivocation, falsitie, and collusion, which some by way of Objection, cast upon it ([London]: 1630), 4-8. [Some reformatting; some spelling modernized; marginal side-references not included; italics original; and underlining mine.]

Credit to Tony for the the find.