“We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially those who believe.”
(1 Tim. 4:10)
In reading this phrase in this chapter of this ancient text this morning, I was again struck by a great tension. Many theologians debate about verses like this. Let me paraphrase the note on this in the ESV… Does this verse mean that Christ died for all people, but only those who believe in Him are saved? Does it mean that He is offered to all people, though not all receive Him? Does it mean Jesus is the Savior of all people, namely those who believe? Does it mean He is the helper of all people, not referring to forgiveness of sins, but to God’s common grace by which He helps and protects people in need?
When this is read in parallel to 1 Tim. 2:4, which says; “(God) desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth”, it seems to reveal a simpler principle than those theological arguments that are endlessly debated. It is saying that God’s love is universal. It is His heart that people know Him. It is not reality that all will turn towards Him, but if we have His heart living in us, we’ll behave as if anyone could at any time. We won’t be able to assume who will and who won’t. This changes everything for some of us.
So, if you’re a follower of Jesus, as you walk out into your world today, realize that God has a desire in His heart for all the people He has created, no matter how they appear, behave, or portray themselves. God wants them to be in relationship with Him. Though not all accept this beautiful gift, we must offer it… lovingly and honestly, for free.