November 22, 2008

More from MacArthur on God's Universal Saving "Wish" and "Desire"

God sincerely wishes that all men and women would turn to Him in saving faith; yet He chose only the elect "out of the world" (John 17:6) and passed over other sinners, leaving them in their depravity and wickedness (cf. Rom. 1:18-32). As a result, they are damned solely because of their sin and rejection of God. He is in no way to blame for such unbelief and is not happy that many people ultimately choose hell. However, God will receive glory even when unbelievers are damned (cf. Rom. 9:22-23).

How this great program of redemption and condemnation, with its apparent paradoxes and divine mysteries, unfolds in a way that is completely consistent with God's will can be answered only by Him. Believers who seek to be faithful witnesses as they embrace God's truth must do so by faith in His Word, trusting in such profound declarations as this:

Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. -Rom. 11:33-36

Since the Lord "desires all men to be saved" (1 Tim. 2:4; cf. Matt. 23:37), it is not our concern to know if someone is elect before praying for that person's salvation We may pray for anyone who is unsaved, knowing that such prayers are fully consistent with God's desire. After all, "The LORD is gracious and merciful; slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. The LORD is good to all, and His mercies are over all His works" (Ps. 145:8-9).
John F. MacArthur, Nothing But the Truth (Wheaton: Good News Publishers, 1999), 43.

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