False Beliefs Fueling Our Apathy
How can we motivate greater evangelism? At the root of a lot of our evangelistic apathy and inactivity is the false idea that everyone will be saved. We might not say it out loud, and at times we may not even be conscious of it. But deep down, under many layers, many of us hold the false belief that everyone is going to heaven anyway. If we really believed everyone is going to hell unless they know Jesus, wouldn’t we forget the embarrassment, the fear of rejection, and any sense of our insufficiency? We would be prepared to suffer, and we’d pour ourselves out for the task.
That’s what Paul teaches in 1 Timothy 4:9–10: “The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 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” (1 Tim. 4:9–10). Wait, did Paul just say that God is the Savior of all? Does God save everyone after all? Let’s dig a little deeper into the two truths taught in this text to find truth that will motivate greater evangelism.
This journey through the books of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus includes 50 daily devotionals written by David Murray, author of The StoryChanger. Part of the StoryChanger Devotional series, this book features daily readings designed to help you learn, love, and live according to the Bible.
God Does Not Save Everyone
“We have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10). This cannot mean that everyone who has ever lived is going to heaven regardless of their response to the gospel. That’s not consistent with the rest of Scripture (e.g., Matt. 7:14). It doesn’t explain Paul’s missionary labors. Why would he “toil and strive,” labor and suffer, if everyone is going to be saved anyway? The rest of this letter rejects universalism (1 Tim. 1:19; 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 Tim. 4:1), as do Paul’s other letters (Rom. 11:5; 1 Cor. 16:22). Paul cautioned about apostasy at the beginning of 1 Timothy 4.
If God is Savior of all, then he is not Savior at all.
“So whom does God save?”
He saves believers alone.
Praise God for giving us not only a salvation to believe in but a belief in his salvation.
God Saves Believers Alone
“. . . the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:10). “All people” can mean “all kinds of people.” “Especially” can mean “to be precise” or “in other words.” Therefore, this verse teaches that God is the Savior of all kinds of people, specifically, all kinds of people who believe. God saves believers.
Faith has two hands. With the first hand it reaches out because it needs outside help, outside knowledge, outside power. It grasps and grips God’s word because it helps us to grip God’s Son. The other hand of faith receives. It receives Christ and all his benefits: forgiveness of sin, everlasting righteousness, salvation, and so on. But because we are born without spiritual arms, God gives us not only the one we are to believe in but the arms with which to believe. Praise God for giving us not only a salvation to believe in but a belief in his salvation. Hallelujah, what a Savior!
This article is adapted from Timothy and Titus: Stories of Fear and Courage by David Murray.
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