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Does God Desire All to Be Saved? Paperback – 30 Sep 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway Books (30 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1433537192
  • ISBN-13: 978-1433537196
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 0.4 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 443,924 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Are There Two Wills in God? Divine Election and God's Desire for All to Be Saved In this short, theological essay, John Piper builds a scriptural case that God's unconditional election unto salvation is compatible with God's genuine desire and offer for all to be saved. Helping us to make sense of this seemingly paradoxical relationship, Piper wisely holds both truths in tension as he explores the Bible's teaching on this challenging topic, graciously responds to those who disagree, and motivates us to passionately proclaim the free offer of the gospel to all people.

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0 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Jim Bruder on 5 Feb 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It is to early to comment since I have yet to read this book. Title certainly appeals and no doubt will promote interesting discussion with my Christian friends
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 23 reviews
20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
an extremely helpful little book that defends the doctrine of election 27 Sep 2013
By David Norman - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
One of the joyous discoveries of church history is that authors used several delivery methods to communicate ideas and doctrinal discussions. One of the means available in that day, albeit less popular in our own, is the writing of doctrinal tracts. These brief booklets are often filled with wisdom and insight, yet lacking in the heft normally associated with theology and church history.

In his new little book, Does God Desire All to be Saved?, John Piper defends the theological understanding of the two wills of God. In doing so, defends the doctrinal understanding of Unconditional Election from the critiques that it fails to account for passages such as 1 Tim 2:4, 2 Pet 3:9, Eze 18:23, and Matt 23:37. In various ways, these four passages all speak explicitly to God's concern for "all" and does not delight in the death of the wicked.

Further, he sets out to "show that unconditional election... does not contradict biblical expressions of God's compassion for all people and does not rule out sincere offers of salvation to all who are lost among the peoples of the world" (13). Piper sees no contradiction in the full and free gospel offer to the lost world.
Critique

Piper is at his best when he clings to Jonathan Edwards' writings. This little book - not much more than a tract - is a fantastic exegetical defense of Edwards' own, "Concerning the Decrees in General, and Election in Particular." Those who find agreement with Piper on this issue will find no breakthroughs in the discussion, but a helpful distillation of the discussion. Critics of Unconditional Election will find a genuine defense - free of unhelpful polemics and rhetoric - that succinctly captures the essence of the position.

Piper spent the vast majority of his work on his first goal - that is, to show that God's willing that all would come to salvation is not in Biblical-contradiction with the reality that only those chosen by God from before creation will be saved. His second goal - to show that unconditional election does not place the free gospel offer in contradiction to God's will - is an extremely short endeavor. That is, it barely takes over a page.

Piper's failure to define what he means by "free and full gospel offer" will likely be the point that garners the greatest critique. He writes, "we now offer him and all that he has achieved for his elect to everyone on earth. 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" (54). Another brief chapter detailing exactly what Piper envisions to be a "full gospel offer" would provide clarification on one of the more contentious concerns of those in disagreement.

Overall, this is an extremely helpful little book that defends the doctrine of election.
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
Oh, the Fascinating Perplexity That is Calvinist Theology 3 Mar 2014
By Finney Raju - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I am a Christian of the non-theologically bent kind. I appreciated many John Piper podcasts. They were intellectually enriching, emotionally satisfying, and even character forming. All of that, even though I never felt convinced by Calvinism. So I thought I'd try out this essay, (available free on his website by the way).

In this book, "Does God Desire All to Be Saved?", Piper gives two alternative answers.

THE PROBLEM:
Scripture tells us that God "wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4), does not want "anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9), would rather the wicked turn rather than perish and has no desire in the death of anyone (Ezek. 18) and wanted to gather "your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" (Matt. 23:37)

THE ANSWER?
So, how does Piper reconcile this with Calvinism? This is the project of this essay.

He presents two possibilities. He proposes one as if to get it out of the way and spends the rest of his essay expanding on the other.

FIRST ANSWER: "It is possible that careful interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:4 would lead us to believe that God's desire for all people to be saved does not refer to every individual person in the world, but rather to all sorts of people..." (emphasis added).

AH. Gotcha. So, when God says he wants everyone saved, he really just mean all sorts of people. God desires a few of every sort (dwarves, hobbits, elves, Mets fans) to be saved. Just does not desire all of them.

Unfortunately, as John Piper notes, this interpretation "has never been convincing to Arminians." His tone suggests here that this interpretation should be persuasive, and/or that it *is* persuasive to him.

He's right about this: It is not convincing. It is not convincing because applying that interpretation to any of the above-referenced verses (with the possible exception of 1 Tim.2:4) would make them incoherent. Under Piper's interpretation of 2 Peter 3, God is not patient so that everyone may be saved, but so that some people of every "sort" can be saved. Likewise, under Piper's interpretation of Ezekiel 18, When God says he doesn't desire the death of ANYONE, he REALLY just meant he didn't desire the death of EVERYONE. He wants a few from "all sorts" of wicked people to be saved.

Nevermind we are never told what counts as a sort. Piper might be thinking ethnic sorts. Why should God categorize people by ethnic sorts? Why would that be any less arbitrary than classifying by income? And the more we climb into this rabbit hole, the further away from any sound basis in scripture or logic to justify this position. And so Piper moves quickly on.

Piper charges Arminians later in the book with imposing their philosophical beliefs onto scripture. So here, I must ask: Would anyone reading Ezekiel 18 naturally infer Piper's interpretation? Is it not something that you have to twist and revise badly in order to maintain a philosophical position - one that these scriptures definitely didn't inspire?

So, Piper's first answer to the question is, No. God does not desire all to be saved.

SECOND ANSWER: Yes, and No. God desires every individual human being to be saved, has the power to make everyone saved, but does not will so.

Piper labors to demonstrate that God can will something in one sense and not will it in another. I won't spend much time on it.

I will only ask Piper to apply his interpretive device to Matthew 23:37. If you recall, that's the one where Jesus says he wanted to gather all of Jerusalem's inhabitants together, but "you were not willing!" In this passage, whose will does Jesus place the responsibility for Jerusalem's condition? God's will, or the people's? Another scripture to consider is Deuteronomy 30: "I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants..." Again, whose is responsible for choosing life?

John Piper does not address these verses. Instead, he points to the absence of a reference to free will in the Paul's letter to Timothy, and then makes the absurdly sweeping conclusion that

"Therefore, the presupposition that seems to demand free will
as an explanation for why not all are saved in spite of 1 Timothy
2:4 is not in the text, is not demanded by logic, is not in harmony
with the wider context of the Pastoral Epistles, and is not taught
in the rest of Scripture."

Back to Piper's second answer: So, under this take, God may desire all to be saved even though he does not will it. OK. Why doesn't he will it? What's stopping him from fulfilling his desires? What could be more important to his relationship to the world than restoring everyone back into the harmonious relationship with him as He made it to be?

God's other priority "is the manifestation of the full range of God's glory in wrath and mercy (Rom. 9:22-23) and the humbling of man so that he enjoys giving all credit to God for his salvation (1 Cor. 1:29)" Later, Piper adds that it is the "glorification of the full range of his perfections in exalting his sovereign grace"

What does the glorification of the full range of his perfections even mean? Why would saving some and damning others humble people and cause them to enjoy giving God credit? And is that really worth more than saving most of the world's inhabitants from endless damnation? So the salvation of one plus his enjoying crediting his salvation to God is worth more than saving two? Why should glorification be opposed to saving the whole world? Couldn't the salvation of ALL be even greater? - which, by the way, is suggested by a clear reading of Timothy, Matthew, Peter, and Ezekiel? There isn't a shred of scripture supporting the notion that self-glorification requires some to be lost. To the contrary, "the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God..." (Isa 59:1-2),

And then the book ended.

To sum, this essay felt like an exercise in mental gymnastics. Thank you, but no thank you. You should have just stuck to your first explanation. It was just as convincing as your second, but a bit less convoluted.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
GOD'S GENUINE DESIRE AND OFFER FOR ALL TO BE SAVED 3 Oct 2013
By David P. Craig - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
John Piper states his purpose for writing this book as follows, "My aim in this short book is to show from Scripture that the simultaneous existence of God's will for all people to be saved and his will to choose some people for salvation unconditionally before creation is not a sign of divine schizophrenia or exegetical confusion. A corresponding aim is to show that unconditional election therefore does not contradict biblical expressions of God's compassion for all people and does not rule out sincere offers of salvation to all who are lost among the peoples of the world."

In Chapter One Piper acknowledges and addresses some of the more perplexing texts that are cited to show that God's will is for all people to be saved: 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:23; and Matthew 23:37. Piper concludes his examination of these passages by stating that the only conclusion we can arrive at is that the Scriptures show that God has two wills: "willing something in one sense that he disapproves in another sense."

In Chapter Two Piper illustrates God's "two wills" by examining five explicit examples of this from the Scriptures: (a) In the death of Christ (Acts 2:23); (b) In the war against the Son of God (Rev. 17:16-17); (c) In the hardening of Pharaoh's heart (Exodus); (d) In the restraint of a King's evil (Proverbs); (e) In not delighting in the punishment of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23).

Chapter Three is an exposition of the Sovereign will of God. Piper's thesis is that "behind the complex relationship of the two wills of God is the foundational biblical premise that God is sovereign in a way that makes him ruler of all actions." Piper examines various passages of Scripture and concludes, "Terms such as 'will of decree' and 'will of command,' or 'sovereign will' and 'moral will,' is not an artificial distinction demanded by Reformed theology. The terms are an effort to describe the whole of biblical revelation. They are an effort to say yes to all of the Bible and not silence any of it. They are a way to say yes to the universal will of Ezekiel 18:23 and Matthew 23:37, and yes to the individual, unconditional election of Romans 9:6-23."

In the final Chapter Piper ties his argument together by discussing how God does not sin in willing that sin takes place. He answers the question: "What keeps God from saving whom he desires to save? And he goes into a lengthy discussion of the question "What is free will?" In the process he comes back to 1 Timothy 2:4 and gives an exegetical and philosophical argument from some of the great theologians of the Church: John Calvin, Jonathan Edwards, Stephen Charnock, Robert L. Dabney and a wonderful illustration from the life of George Washington.

In the final analysis Piper arrives at 3 concluding statements about the universal love of God and the offer of Christ's salvation to everyone in the world: "(1) Christ really is the all-powerful, all-wise, all-satisfying Son of God offered in the gospel; (2) by his death and resurrection, he has acted out God's discriminating, definite electing, regenerating, faith-creating, every-promise-guaranteeing new-covenant love, and thus purchased and secured irreversibly for his elect everything needed to bring them from deadness in sin to everlasting, glorified life and joy in the presence of God; and (3) everyone without any exception, who receives Christ as supreme treasure--who believes in his name--will be united to Christ in the embrace of this electing love and enjoy him and his gifts forever."

John Piper has done a beautiful job of explaining the mysteries of God's sovereign will, the offer of salvation, and shown clearly that the Bible teaches that we believe in and practice both - that He is sovereign in His election of those He will save, and that we have a responsibility to declare the gospel to all of humanity because He desires their salvation. I recommend this book to help you understand the depths of God's sovereign plan, love, and activity in carrying out His redemptive purposes until Christ returns again.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
salvation belongs to God 15 Sep 2014
By TheGospelGardener - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book because both sides of the coin of salvation were dealt with. Even though it appears that it has two sides to it, it is still God's perspective we must have about any topic and sometimes understanding God and His will can be difficult to grasp and explain. I think John Piper did a good job on this topic.

Faith and trust are what moves God! We aren't always going to understand everything about God but we should know all the scriptures that deal with any given topic about God and His will. I do think that after reading this book I have gained a more balanced view about God's will on salvation. It's just that - God's will.

After reading this book I was even more thankful that God chose me from before the foundation of the earth to reveal His son Jesus to me to save me, so that I could forever praise Him!
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A thoroughly Biblical answer to this question. 17 April 2014
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The question, "Does God desire all to be saved?" is a challenging question and a challenging answer (no matter what your answer) and it made for a challenging book to read. The question is challenging no matter how you answer it, because whichever way you go there are implications. A simple, "Yes." doesn't even really answer the question.

Some believe that all will be saved... eventually. I don't believe that. I can't. The Bible just doesn't leave room for that interpretation. But nevertheless, some can answer yest to this question, believing that all will eventually be saved.

Others might answer yes, knowing full well that all are not saved, but are doomed to eternal punishment. This leaves a new challenge. Does God have unmet desires? Is God unsuccessful in His attempts? Where does this leave us?

An answer of, "No." brings on a whole new set of challenges to deal with.

In this book John Piper, as he always does, digs deep into scripture. That is my favorite thing about Piper books. I know that I am not going to simply get his opinion, but an expounding of scriptures that are specifically related to the question at hand. You can tell from his books that he genuinely wants to know what the Bible says.

The voice talent on this book does an excellent job of bringing to life the words of this book. I enjoy an audio book much more if I can almost feel as if I am simply listening to a person talking to me. The way the book is written and the way it is read pulled me into this discussion. When I finished listening to it, I almost went back to the beginning to listen again. Piper doesn't dwell too long on any one thought, unless it is absolutely necessary. This left me feeling like I needed to pause and think occasionally or simply go back to the beginning.

If you have a desire to get away from a simplistic answer to this question and dig deep into the scriptures to see how God's Word answers this question, then you really need to get this book. I must warn you though, it is not for the person who doesn't want to think and consider and ponder big thoughts of God.
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