Did God choose some people to be saved (the “elect”) and leave the rest to be condemned?
While I am aware there are verses in other books which suggest the above notion, there are plenty others that explicitly say otherwise.
But knowing that God is the same yesterday, today and forever, and not the author of confusion, there should be no contradiction in His words. Either salvation is reserved for the elected few or it is a choice given to everyone, so which is which?
As always, let us look to the Bible for answers… (again, due to time constraint, I will only use 2 verses in 1 Timothy)
Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence. For 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 between God and men,the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all…
(1 Timothy 2:1-6)
A plain reading of the text would tell us that it is God’s desire “for all men to be saved”, and for this, He gave up His Son, Jesus, to be a “ransom for all”.
I am no language expert, but I suppose the word “all” should mean.. well, “all”. It is clear and unambiguous, with no need for reading between the lines or any sort of deductions.
Another verse to support my point:
For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe.
(1 Timothy 4:10)
Again, the above verse is self-explanatory. God (the Son, in this context) is the “Savior of all men”, and especially for the believers… those who chose to accept this gift of salvation.
Some might argue that since God is sovereign, He would not have allowed His plans to be thwarted by the whims of humans, (ie. dependent on their free choice), but this is not necessarily so, as His sovereignty does not exclude the option of Him imposing certain rules or limits in this grand scheme of salvation.
One good example will be Jesus Himself. Did He really have to come down from Heaven and die as a Man? Certainly we can reason that for a sovereign God, in His infinite wisdom, He could have find many other less painful ways to solve this conundrum, but He did not.
Instead, He set the rule that “according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission“(Hebrews 9:22), and allowed His son to bleed on on the cross for our sins (foreshadowed by the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament).
So why should a sovereign God, according to some theologians, not be “allowed” to let us to exercise our free choice (which is also given by Him) to choose between life and death?
Is this not a case of limiting God too?