Saturday, June 1, 2013

Is There A Person God Cannot Save?

Is there a person that God cannot save? I suppose it depends on what one means by "save".  In any given perilous situation (e.g. my car going off a cliff) the answer would have to be "no", God could save anyone in any situation. If what is meant by use of the term is to be preserved alive after the final judgment of sin, then the answer is "yes", and resoundingly so. That being said, I still must confess that scripture convinces me that if God could save everyone from judgment, he would.

"‘...As I live!’ declares the Lord God, ‘I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked..."     Ezekiel 33:11 NASB

It is quite clear from scripture that there is a place of eternal judgment and that it will be populated with unsaved sinners as well as the demon horde. Eternal confinement to a lake that burns with fire seems harsh, minimally--not at all the kind of thing one might anticipate someone styled "Savior" doing. I think it would be natural to think that God would have done something about that, if he could have.

He did.

"...I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all..."      1 Timothy 2:1-6 NASB

It seems to me, what God could do to save all humanity from judgment he did do. If all humanity does not end up saved, the fault will not lie with God, but with man. He has provided a substitutionary sacrifice for sin that effectively meets the demand that both man and God see for justice, and effectively reconciles the broken relationship between God and man the sinner. All that is left is for man to no longer want to be a sinner.

Now that is not something that can be imposed. It can be coaxed, an invitation can be made, and a supernatural effort to convince the sinner of his perilous status can be undertaken. But to write over the will of the person in order to make it happen would only serve to cause the sinner to cease being a man. The result could not be said to be a man being saved, but would represent a man being transformed into something other than a man, something less than the image of God.

Man was made in the image of God, to do as he pleased. A man could not be said to be a man on those terms if someone else's pleasure were substituted (especially unwillingly) for his own. To be a man is to have independent will. Unfortunately, it is also to have the possibility of withstanding every effort of God to turn that will to the obedience of faith.

Is there a person God cannot save? Yes, the one who won't repent and believe the gospel.


Andy T Bisgrove said...

Thanks for all these posts on various doctrines and situations. I appreciate the time you devote to them. I also like the blog links in your sidebar.

May I run somethiing by you re the ESV? I have noticed, using Bible Gateway, that some Bible verses are rather Calvinistically translated in the ESV, when compared with standard translations such as the NIV or AV. I am not talking about the footnotes in the ESV Study Bible, but the actual text.

I have checked a few verses. such as: Jude 4, I Pet 2:8, Prov 16:4, Ps 49:14, Rom 9:22, II Chron 9:7, Rev 13: 8, Rom 14:22. I suppose it's not surprise to find Romans 9 in there.

What do you think? My pastors are out of the country at the moment, or else I would ask them.


SLW said...

I have heard that about the ESV, but don't use it so I'm not really in a position to say anything reliable about that issue. I have noticed that Calvinists love it, though, whatever that might say! I can say that I see no problem in the Romans 9:22 treatment, however.

bethyada said...

I use the ESV, love it, and don't have any concerns as an Arminian. Perhaps I have not looked at specific passages closely, but if I were to come across a contentious issue I would look at several translations and read an article or 2 on the topic.