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Your will be done – amen?!

03-08-2018 - Posted by Andre Piet

1 Timothy 2 verse 4

It is God’s will that all people be saved, according to Paul’s solemn declaration in 1 Timothy 2:4. Mind you: this is GOD’s will, regardless of whether man wants to. Man may want to oppose GOD’s will and usually does. Already in the garden of Eden, man was given the thought, to be like God and thus to do his own will. A rather foolish pursuit because this by definition runs into a fiasco since GOD’s will always is superior. His will overrules any opposition. If GOD wants something then eventually it will always happen. Hence the praise “Your will be done!” (Mat.6:10). The reason is simple: He is GOD and there is only one (1Tim.2:5). The best thing a creature can do is to conform to God’s will. As Jesus did in the garden of Gethsemane when he said:

Abba, Father, all is possible to Thee. Have this cup carried aside from Me. But not what I will, but what Thou! – Mar.14:36 –

If the will of man were on the level of that of God (forgive me the thought), than mankind would consist of just as many gods. A ‘Christian’ variant of that idea is: God wants all people to be saved, but if people do not want it, then it does not happen. Be aware that in that case, the will of man is not only equal to, but even more than God’s will. Then we do not have to write ‘god’ with a capital letter anymore because people have the last word. God has become a god who seeks the lost but is unable to find it.

When it comes to the salvation of mankind, only one will is decisive, namely that of GOD. All people are sinners, that is, missing the mark, and mortals, and thus they are entirely dependent on what GOD wants and does. As Paul writes in Romans 9:16:

Consequently, then, it is not of him who is willing, nor of him who is racing, but of God, the Merciful.

It is the one GOD who therefore places one mediator between GOD and mankind, namely the man Christ Jesus who gives himself a ransom for all (1Tim.2:6). He paid the price when he died in order to be able to stand up and thus conquer death and thus give immortal life to all people (1Cor.15:22,23). That is what GOD wants: to save and make alive all people! And because the one GOD wants it, He is actually the Saviour of all people, as Paul explains at least as clearly in 1Tim.4:10. He wants to save all people, He can save all people and therefore He will save all people! That is the Evangel that Paul was allowed to make known to the world. For GOD wants all people to be saved and come to the knowledge of this truth!

Opposition in the magazine ‘Amen’

Nevertheless, this great truth always leads to resistance and contradiction. In the magazine ‘Amen’ (July 2018) an article was published by Sebastiaan de Graaf (SdG) under the title ‘Does what God wants always happen?’ He discusses 1Tim2:4 and argues that God may want all people to be saved but that it therefore doesn’t happen yet. Because, he reasons, a person can resist God’s will. And the latter is true, but he overlooks the fact that GOD’s will is ultimately always superior.

Will or wish?

In all possible ways SdG tries to diminish the text of 1Tim2:4. Likewise, God’s will is in his eyes nothing more than God’s wish. He writes:

…It is of importance to look at the meaning of the word ‘will’ in 1 Timothy 2:4. In the Greek the word ‘thelo’ is used here, which indicates willing in the sense of wishing. With this wishing, you can want something without the guarantee that it will happen.

This is not correct. Wishing is weaker than wanting. Wishing expresses a desire (feeling). Willing on the other hand is a considered choice (reason). As in our language, the Biblical Greek also has two different words: wanting is ‘thelo’ and wishing is ‘euchomai’ (for instance in Rom.9:3).

All of all kinds

Like SdG diminishes ‘willing’ to ‘wishing’, he also tries to turn all mankind in to all kinds of men.

‘All mankind’ could also mean ‘all kinds of men, because the Greek word for all (pas) is used here without article and then it could also mean all kinds.

Here again, without any necessity in the text, a perfectly clear statement is attenuated. ‘All’ is not the same as ‘all kinds’. All people means: everyone (in the given context), without exception. All kinds of people, on the other hand, mean: various types of people. When we read in Romans 5:12 that death passed to “all men” through Adam (on which all sin), that means that every descendant of Adam is a mortal and a sinner. With great emphasis, Paul had previously taught that in this “all” no human is excepted (Rom.3:10-12). Then to conclude in Romans 5:18 (as if it were a mathematical formula):

Consequently, then, as it was through one offense for all mankind for condemnation, thus also it is through one just award for all mankind for life’s justifying.

I ask: was Adam’s one mistake to condemn all kinds of people or “all mankind”? To ask the question, is to answer it. All people (Adamites) are sinners and mortals. Now, in the same way, one righteous act (=Jesus Christ’s obedience) is justification to life for all people. If the first “all mankind” is literal and absolute, then the second is also. Otherwise the equation is not pure.

GOD’s omnipotence is at stake

By all this haggling and contradicting of clear statements in Scripture, SdG is eventually compelled to question God’s omnipotence. He is writing:

The question that still remains is whether the fact that Gods’ wish is not always followed up, is diminishing his omnipotence. This seems to be the case according to human reason. But according to that same human reason God cannot be understood.

This is a very transparent fallacy. What SdG should say is: my conclusion can’t be understood! Read how he ‘substantiates’ this:

From this same limited human and also sin-filled reason of man we might also call another impossible dilemma with regard to God’s omnipotence: “If God is almighty, can He then make a stone that is so heavy that He Himself can’t lift it?” These and other bizarre questions show that the human spirit can’t understand God’s.

These are indeed bizarre questions, but isn’t SdG not scattering sand in the eyes of his readers? Because GOD’s omnipotence does not mean that He can do everything. It is e.g. impossible for GOD that He would lie (Hebrews 6:18). God’s omnipotence does not mean that He can do everything, but that everything he wants can also be done. And with that we are back at the truth of 1 Timothy 2:4. God does not wish all kinds of people to be saved. No, the one GOD wants all people to be saved. And that is why he is also (in his own words!) the “Saviour of all mankind”!