who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Also, if this verse states that God is willing to save every individual that has lived and that will ever live it calls into question the power of the atonement. Do we merely become saveable or are we actually saved. Charles Spurgeon defines it by saying,
A "god" whose will is resisted, whose designs are frustrated, whose purpose is checkmated, possesses no title to Deity, and so far from being a fit object of worship, merits nought but contempt.
You say that Christ did not die so as to infallibly secure the salvation of anybody. (1)And Spurgeon continues by saying the Calvinist view of the power of the atonement,
We say Christ so died that He infallibly secured the salvation of a multitude that no man can number, who through Christ's death not only may be saved but are saved, must be saved, and cannot by any possibility run the hazard of being anything but saved. (2)
So, what is the power of the atonement? Is it actually one that saves or one that only makes salvation possible but only by the final say of mankind, thus proving to be a work from a less than all-powerful God since it doesn't secure it but rather makes it possible doing all He could do. Also, does the will of Christ (who is God) get overridden by the simple will of mankind and has done everything in His might to save but it is finally/ultimately left up to the autonomous and sovereign will of man (since the Arminian view of God's purpose is that He wishes to save every individual)? Or is Christ's work never overridden and based the work of Him which are driven by the power of His attributes, and His work is not based upon us? Some may say that it is both, but that calls into question what is our state of being before salvation, are we in danger of death or are we dead because of sin? Read Eph 2:1-10, it states we were dead, dead people not only don't help out but can't help out which I will point out later.
One more question I have for this is, "Does any where in Scripture does the word 'all' get limited because of its context?" For example, Rom 7:8
But sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. For apart from the law, sin lies dead.Notice, "all kinds of covetousness," I think this one is the easiest because it clearly states "kinds" rather than "all individual" or leaving it with just "all" leaving it up for us to define. This verse does not mean that Paul covets my girlfriend, or my iPod, or my cell phone...etc. but rather it is limited to its context which states "kinds" meaning Paul coveted woman, possessions that weren't his...etc. So, there is a limitation there. But let's look at another one that's not so easy, a very popular universalisitc verse used by Arminians or Universalists, 1 Timothy 4:10,
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
This clearly states that Christ is the savior for all people, this is the part many Arminians want to point out but what I want to point out is, "especially of those who believe." I want to ask the question, Is Jesus the savior of those who are in hell? is He the savior for current buddhists that do not acknowledge Jesus as savior? atheists? murderers (who do not repent)? The clear answer is no because Jesus is only the savior of those who believe as John 3:16 states. The benefits of salvation are for those who believe. So, what does this verse mean? I want to point out something in Greek:: σωτηρ παντων ανθρωπων μαλιστα πιστων. This translates as the savior of all mankind especially those who believe. Now, I want to point out the word "μαλιστα" which is the word that has been translated "especially." I want to read to you an Arminian commentary, so its not of Calvinistic influence or even Calvinistically interpreted but this is an Arminian Commentary. It is by I. Howard Marshall and P.H. Towner and it states,
Adoption of the traditional translation of μαλιστα as 'especially' (so most scholars) leads to some strained exegesis. The usual solution is to distinguish between the 'all' to whom salvation is offered and the believers who accept the offer...These problems disappear if we accept the other possible translation, 'to be precise, namely, I mean.' 'All' is thus limited here to believers' (3)
So, even an Arminian scholar states that "all" can be limited and is limited in this passage because "especially" would be improperly translated but rather the word "namely" would be the right statement. So, this verse again with the change
For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, namely of those who believe.
So, we see that those whom Christ is the savior of, is those who believe, not all individual persons. Let's look at Rom 8:32 as well and see what "all" means here,
He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
This looks as if Paul is saying that Jesus was given for all. Is Paul talking to all persons as the Arminian believes? What about those who are already in hell for eternity? I guess it doesn't mean "all" then, but it is limited. Notice one more thing, though small but it does give insight, Christ was given to "us all." So He is given to all believers, showing the benefits of salvation are given to only those who believe, just as John 3:16 states and 1 Tim 4:10 states as I have shown earlier. Let us also look at Rom 11:32 to see what "all" means,
For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.Now, this verse, shows that "all" have been given to disobedience as we all (Calvinists and Arminians) believe, but the latter part is what is disputed. Have all been given mercy? the obvious answer is "no!" as Rom 9:15, 18 states that God doesn't give all mercy, He gives mercy to those whom He gives mercy, and it states that He hardens some. Now, the Arminian will argue that all have the possibility of receiving mercy but some choose not to. Some may even point out that the text says, "may" and they say that it is not talking about that God actually forces the salvation but allows permission for us to come. Now, one needs to not only understand "all" in this context but when they use the second excuse one needs to see what the extent of sin is in our lives, can we actually submit to God? Rom 8:7
For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law, indeed, it cannot.And, Jeremiah 13:23
Can an Ethiopian change his skinNotice, in the same way a leopard cannot change his spots, those who are accustomed to do evil cannot do good. An ability issue is happening here, they cannot do good. How many are unable then? Rom 3:23
or a leopard its spots?
Neither can you do good
who are accustomed to doing evil.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
How then are they able to do good? How do all have the same opportunity when no one has the ability? Prevenient grace cannot help this because it states that God has grace for all to come but only some are saved. The question there lies does some people get more grace that others so that they are able to come? Since we saw that we are unable to come, does God give more grace to some and not as much to others? What good is prevenient grace if it only is something that is offered but doesn't actually change us? If God gives us all the same amount, then is it because I am better than a non-believer because I built up the faith and they are too dumb or too weak to do so? If so, would this qualify as a salvation by works? Also, if this were so, could we boast in something else but the Lord, like our knowledge and our power? The question then is, if God calls all, why aren't all justified? Is this the correct view to hold? Scripture clearly states that
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.So, those He calls, He justifies, but yet not everyone is justified nor glorified, but only those who He calls get justified and those whom get justified also get glorified.
So, my questions to the Arminian are::
-What is the power of the atonement? Does it actually save or merely make us saveable?
-How do we interpret universalistic in light of humanity's inability to come to God?
-Could "all" just be clearly defined to a limited number (though, only known by God not humanity so it would be perceived as unlimited) since all has been limited in several other cases and Christ is only the savior of all who believe?
-For whom is the benefits of salvation? Is it for all or for some?
-Does God call everyone? If so, why aren't all justified if all who are called are justified?
(1) Charles Spurgeon, Sermon 181, New Park Street Pulpit, IV, p. 135
(3) I. Howard Marshall and Philip H Towner, Pastoral Epistles (International Critical Commentary Series) (London: T & T Clark International, 2004), 556.