By: John Piper
Does God Desire All to Be Saved? The answer to this question clearly yes. It is in the Bible (1 Timothy 2:4) and therefore it is true. But after preaching John 6:44 which says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”, I received a very important question from a Godly Christian who was struggling, (as most of us do) to understand the issue of God’s election. How is it that God “chose us in him before the foundation of the world” and how is it that he “predestined us” (Ephesians 1:4,5 cf. Romans 9) yet did not “choose” those who perish How does this fit with the truth that God “desires that all people would be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth”? (1 Timothy 2:4 cf. 2 Peter 3:9, Ezekiel 18:23, Matthew 23:37) If God desires that all people would be saved, why are there so many who are still resistant to the good news of Christ?
This is the great question that John Piper seeks to address in this book. He states, “My purpose in this book has simply been to show that God’s will for all people to be saved is not at odds with the sovereignty of his grace in election.” (54) The book is free and is only 55 pages (you could read it in one sitting) yet is packed full of scripture and clear biblical truth. I must warn you though not to be fooled by the shortness of the book. This book is not a picture book and will require some careful reading and some real contemplation. As John Piper says in the introduction, “I admit that some of the paths in this book are steep. And some of the steepest places are through the thickest clouds. The climb is not for everyone. We all have different gifts, and not everyone is called to this kind of intellectual climb. Nevertheless, some of us are wired to make this climb.” (9)
I am thankful for Piper’s clarity and emphasis on the reality that all who come to Jesus are saved and will be raised to be with Christ. He says “God’s plan from all eternity was to magnify his glory in creation and redemption. He aimed to make the glory of his grace the highest revelation of himself (Eph. 1:6). To that end, he sent his Son into this creation and made Christ—crucified for sinners and conquering death—the climax of the display of the glory of his grace…Christ invites everyone to come. And everyone who comes is saved. Everyone who receives Christ has been chosen from the foundation of the world and is an heir of an infinite inheritance.” (52)
Piper closes the book by saying this: “I affirm with John 3:16 and 1 Timothy 2:4 that God loves the world with a real and sincere compassion that desires the salvation of all men. Yet I also affirm that God has chosen from before the foundation of the world those whom he will save from sin [Eph 1:3]. Since not all people are saved, we must choose whether we believe (with the Arminians) that God’s will to save all people is restrained by his commitment to ultimate human self-determination or whether we believe (with the Reformed) that God’s will to save all people is restrained by his commitment to the glorification of the full range of his perfections in exalting his sovereign grace (Eph. 1:6, 12, 14; Rom. 9:22–23).This decision should not be made on the basis of philosophical assumptions about what we think human accountability requires. It should be made on the basis of what the Scriptures teach.” (53)
I pray that this is book helpful for you in your mission to understand the Glory’s of God and your desire to be faithful to God’s word.
Book Review by Pastor Jonathan Ahlgren
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John 6:44 says “No one can come to me (Jesus) unless the Father who sent me draws him.” In other words, apart from God drawing us, we would reject Jesus eternally and would be without hope. What effect should this reality of God’s adoption and election have on us?
- It should humble us. Titus 3:5 says “he saved us not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit”. You did nothing to earn a right standing with God. You can do nothing. This reality aught to lead us to the throne of God in humility.
- It should cause Thankfulness. When you realize that you did not save yourself, that God did all the work, you will be thankful. I think of Ephesians 1:4-5, “God chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will to the praise of his glorious grace.”
- It should bring Hope. Because of that fact that salvation does not depend on man’s ability, because of that fact that it is God who is in charge of salvation, you can have hope for those who are lost. No matter how dead in sin they are, no matter how resistant they are to the gospel, all it takes for them to come to Jesus is God drawing them to himself by opening their eyes to the beauty of the gospel. Salvation is rooted in God’s mercy and God’s power, not man’s ability.
- It should lead to Prayer. If no one can come to Jesus apart from the father drawing them, then praying is the most powerful tool in evangelism. You can prepare all you want. You can have all the right bible passages memorized. You have all of the most “effective” evangelism techniques. But if you are not falling on your face before God asking him to open the eyes of your lost neighbor, asking him to change the heart of you family member or coworker, you will be working with your own ability, witch is useless without the power of God.
- All glory goes to God. Biblical texts that deal with God’s choosing, election, and predestination say that it is all for the sake of God’s praise and Glory: “Chose…Predestined…to the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph. 1:6), “Predestined…to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:12), “God’s purpose of election…to show my (God’s) power… and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (Rom. 9:17 & Ex. 9:6) “to make known the riches of his glory…which he has prepared beforehand for glory– even us whom he has called” (Rom. 9:23)