22. If God wants all men to be saved, why doesn’t He save all men?



Because when the Scripture says that God “desires all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4 – NKJV), does not mean that God predestined all men to be saved; but it means that God wants to save men of all nations, tribes and tongues, of every social and economic status, etc: this is what we deduce from the context of Paul’s discourse. Here is the context: “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle – I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying – a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-7 – NKJV).

As you can see, Paul exhorts us to pray for all men, for kings and all who are in authority. So, the words “[He]desires all men to be saved” were written by Paul to the intent that we should not think that there is no need to pray for persons of a certain rank or race because salvation is not for them. When Paul says that God desires all men to be saved, he does not mean that God will save all men because in other places Paul explains that God does not want to have mercy on all men; for instance, he says to the saints of Rome that God has mercy on whom He wants to have mercy and He hardens whom He wants to harden (Romans 9:18), and that God, “wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (Romans 9:22 – NKJV).

What shall we say then about the fact that Paul says that the man of sin, who will be revealed before the coming of Christ, will be destroyed? Do not his words prove that God does not want the man of sin to be saved? Do you see in these words: “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming” (2 Thessalonians 2:8 – NKJV) the possibility for this man to be saved? Can you affirm, after reading these words of Paul, that God wants to save the man of sin?

Certainly, if God had decided to have mercy on all men, he would eventually save all men because no one can keep Him from accomplishing His purpose. Listen to what God said through Isaiah: “Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it” (Isaiah 46:9-11). However, since God did not appoint all men to be saved, He will eventually save only some men, that is, the elect.

I want to conclude by telling you the following thing: be careful, because these words of Paul, according to which God desires all men to be saved, are quoted by the Universalists (that is, those who assert that God in His goodness will eventually save all men). For they say that when God says that He desires something nobody can keep Him from fulfilling His own desire, thus nobody will be able to keep Him from saving all men.