The title of this book is too intriguing not to read the entire book. And it’s only 54 pages of content without the acknowledgements and Scripture index pages.

The real question is, if God really desire all to be saved, then why doesn’t he save them all? Why does he allow some to endure eternal punishment?

I am writing the following purely for my own understanding. It’s not an attempt to summarize what Piper said since he explains it much better and I may not fully represent what he said.

Both the Armenian and Reform view agree that while God really does desire all to be saved, God does let some to be punished. They differ in the reason why. Armenians say it’s because God is restrained by his commitment to ultimate human self-determination. Free will is such a high priority that he allows people to make their choice even though he would will that they be saved. While this sounds right to us from a human point of view, it doesn’t seem to be what Scripture teaches. If this were true, that means human choice is stronger than God’s will. God does not have absolute control of all his creations. Scripture is clear that God has absolute control over everything. His will cannot be thwarted by human choice.

The reform view says God’s will to save all is restrained by his commitment to the glorification of the full range of his perfections in exalting his sovereign grace (p.52) But if that is true that God can in fact choose to save all but he doesn’t, isn’t he making people suffer? And isn’t that evil to make people suffer when you have power to stop it for your own glory?

The book gives several places in Scripture showing that God does allow evil, sometimes even wills it. “…God chooses for behavior to come about that he commands not to happen.” (p.29) Does that mean God has sinned in willing sin to take place, even when he said not to sin?

Reformed view appeals to “secondary causes” or “intermediate causes” between God’s sovereign will and the immediate effecting of a sinful act. (p.42) Quoting Jonathan Edwards: “It implies no contraction to suppose that an act may be an evil act, and yet that it is a good thing that such an act should come to pass…As for instance, it might be an evil thing to crucify Christ, but yet it was a good thing that the crucifying of Christ came to pass.” (p.38) “In other words, the Scriptures lead us to the insight that God can will that a sinful act come to pass without willing it as an act of sin in himself (p.38)

Another issue of discussion is, if God has compassion for people, yet doesn’t save them if he’s able, that means his love is not love at all. He’s a hypocrite. The answer to this argument Piper quotes Robert L. Dabney’s analogy from the life of George Washington. Washington faced a decision of a young Major Andre’s treasonous acts. Signing the death warrant for his friend was one of the most difficult thing he’s had to do. Washington’s compassion for his friend was real and profound, but if so, then why did he sign the death warrant? “Washington’s volition to sign the death warrant of Andre did not arise from the fact that his compassion was slight or feigned, but from the fact that it was rationally counterpoised by a complex of superior judgments…of wisdom, duty, patriotism, and moral indignation…” (p47-48)

There are arguments against this analogy, explained in the book that I will not go over.

Overall, this book helped me to understand this complex question of why God does not choose to save everyone. No explanation can satisfy every question this side of heaven, but there are certainly reasonable ones that help me understand Scripture more.

 

 

Leave a Reply