Does God Desire All to Be Saved?

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That is, God would not have willed this if human beings were not sinful. So human sin is both the precondition and the effectual agent in the crucifixion. There is no contradiction in God willing that Judas should not betray Jesus and that Jesus serve as a sacrifice for sin, for there are many different ways in which this state of affairs could obtain. But you may say that the only way that the perfect Son of God could be executed is through evil, which means that in order for the Son of God to be executed, God would have to will for evil to occur.

It is not his original will. It is human evil which crucifies the Son of God, but it is divine good which makes it an atonement for sin. In other words, God knows, given human sin, that placing his perfect Son on earth will provoke humanity and that they will kill him and so expose themselves as evil.

Yet it is possible for God to use this for his purpose. Thus, God does not will the evil to be done, but merely knows that it will be done and plans accordingly. God knows that people will kill his Son, and he plans the Atonement given this knowledge, without determining the evil actions. The story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers illustrates this idea.

But this does not mean that he wills their evil or wills their evil deeds to come about. This means that it cannot be used as biblical evidence for the two wills doctrine. Piper first needs to show that that the other plausible ways of interpreting the events of the crucifixion are wrong in order to use the crucifixion as biblical evidence of his doctrine of two wills. You must also think of the implications of thinking that God directly wills the betrayal of Judas, or the wickedness of the Roman soldiers. This does mean that God directly wills for evil to occur. If a being directly wills for evil to occur, it is meaningless to call that being good.

This contradicts all the Biblical teaching about God being perfectly good and trustworthy. The two outcomes here that would be contradictory is Israel successfully leaving and Israel being prevented from leaving. So we have established that there is no two wills required as far as outcomes are concerned. We have to be clear then about what we are talking about here. There is no problem here if you suppose that Pharaoh refused to obey and that God hardened his heart as a judgment against him.

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That is to say, God has a will for how Pharaoh should respond. And since he does not obey that will, he is judged. And if the human refuses his command, his will that this command is obeyed does not change, but the situation has now changed and God responds accordingly. For example, say that there is a cake and I want to eat it. Somebody else comes and throws the cake on the floor to spite me.

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So God is interacting with the wills of those who respond to him, and he is responding to them. This interpretation is natural if you read the text. It does not represent a different will of God. Ironically, this precisely illustrates why this example, and indeed pretty much all the examples he cites, are not analogous to the Calvinist doctrine of salvation.

The will to save all and the will to reprobate some are both wills of decree and neither are wills of command. Both are decrees by God about what state of affairs should ultimately obtain. Wills of command are specific instructions by God to people on how to live, but the will of God to save all and to reprobate some do not involve wills of command, because neither of them is an instruction by God about how people should behave, but an ultimate outcome. Indeed, it is arguable that on a Calvinist picture of divine sovereignty there is no difference between a will of command and a will of decree.

If you do think that freely chosen human actions are decisive in the story of salvation, then there is no problem distinguishing between the two.

This does not involve God having two wills, but his will is conditional on the freely chosen actions of individuals. Therefore, on Calvinism, especially with regard to salvation, all the wills of God are wills of decree and therefore directly conflict with one another if they intend both reprobation and universal salvation.

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Seeing as many would naturally shy away from being labelled an Arminianist, they defer to the Calvinistic position. To further demonstrate this point consider the footnote explaining Arminianist theology. Having explained that both camps agree that humanity is fallen and cannot save itself, he goes on to highlight some differences.

God elects those to salvation who do not resist, but accept, his gracious gift of faith and perseverance; God reprobates those who stubbornly refuse to receive his saving gift.

Book Review: Does God Desire All to Be Saved?, by John Piper

Now, the vast majority of Christians would reject the possibility of losing their salvation. When they read that Arminians believe this they reject it and instead embrace Calvinism, never realizing there are viable alternatives to both. Piper now moves on to explain how God can apparently have two wills — in the Calvinistic model, He simply does. However, even if those two did exist in that tension, it would not create a contradiction.

It has been expressed in various ways throughout the centuries. The difference between these two wills is that one is actionable and results in the salvation of a soul, the other desires something, but takes no action to accomplish it.

It is curious to me that Calvinists often wrongly accuse non-calvinists of creating in their minds a wishy-washy God who wants to save, but is thwarted but the will of a puny human. They depict this God as wringing His hands in Heaven as He powerlessly looks on, unable to act. Yet, how much worse does it look if there is a God who has two groups in front of Him and says to one,. Just because.