The Desires of our Saviour God.

1 Tim. 2:4.

W. G. B.

Christian Friend vol. 18, 1891, p. 215.

How wondrously these few words express the breadth of God's heart - of "God our Saviour, who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth!" The breadth of His heart, and the extent of His desire for all men in the present time. In passing I would just observe that the word here translated "will" - "who will have all men to be saved," etc. - signifies desire, wish, in the original, and not determination or decree. Were it the latter none could escape being saved. It is a different word from that used in verse 8, which has more the force of prescribe, or decree.

How far above and beyond the thoughts in the narrow heart of man, who would limit God's grace to a select few! How different to our way of dealing also! We would shew favour to those who have shown favour to us. "But God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." It was "when we were enemies we were reconciled to God." Surely we have reason to say, "His thoughts are not as our thoughts, neither are His ways as our ways."

It is not my object, however, to enlarge on the first part of this verse, but I would just ask, ere leaving it, How far is my reader's heart in accord with the heart of God our Saviour? How far has your heart stretched out to the breadth of His desire toward all men? And if you are in real, downright earnest in seeking in your sphere and measure to testify to the unsaved of our Saviour God's desire towards them; and to bear witness to the testimony which has gone forth, that "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time?" Every soul saved is, as it were, another tick of the great clock, on the dial plate of which the hand of grace is moving slowly round, to complete the present hour of John 5:25. And then the other hour of John 5:28-29 will begin. May our Saviour God awaken His saints to whole-hearted earnestness in this matter, for -

Time is short!
Eternity is long!
Christ is coming!
Death is active!
Souls are perishing!
The harvest plenteous!
The labourers few!
The wages high!

But though I thus speak, for I feel the need of such a word of exhortation myself, my object is more to call attention to 1 Timothy 2:4. We may regard this as a distinct desire on God's part, though inseparably connected with the first. People must be first saved, and know it, before the heart is free to receive "the knowledge of the truth." So long as the conscience is at unrest, there can be no right condition of soul to make progress in the knowledge of the truth. And yet how many, alas! rest satisfied with salvation. That is what their hearts had been set upon, safety for themselves, without desiring to enter into God's wish for them, that they might "come unto the knowledge of the truth." Yes, even among those who get so far as the knowledge of salvation. And one has grave reason to fear that the vast majority of God's people rest satisfied with far less than this. They have touched, as it were, the hem of Christ's garment with a trembling faith, without waiting to hear those words of comfort and assurance from His blessed lips, "Thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace."

No, to be saved is not all. Nor to be earnest and active in the salvation of others either, blessed as both are. In the weighty words of another, "If I am really working for Christ I am getting from Christ, and growing up into Him. Sitting at His feet is the natural portion of my soul. Whenever you find anyone serving without sitting at His feet, you may be assured they are Martha-like. When any are sitting at His feet, hearing His word, they will not be behind in true and pleasing service. If you begin with serving (as many do now-a-days), you will never sit at His feet; whereas if you begin with sitting, you will soon serve wisely, well, and acceptably. The serving quiets the conscience, and the sitting is overlooked and neglected. The enemy gains an advantage, for it is at the sitting the conscience is more enlightened, and the pleasure and mind of the master are better known; and hence there is damage done and loss sustained by the soul when service preoccupies one to the exclusion of sitting at his feet, or when it is most prominent. I never met with anyone making service prominent who knew what it was to sit at His feet; but, thank God, I know indefatigable workers who enjoy sitting at His feet above any service, and it is clear that they who sit most at His feet must be most competent to serve, and most in His confidence, which, after all, is the clue to all efficient service."

We find in this very chapter (v. 7) that Paul was "ordained a preacher and a teacher of the Gentiles." It was not only God's desire for "all men to be saved," but "to come unto the knowledge of the truth" as well. So the apostle both preached the gospel and taught the truth.

The Epistle to the Romans supplies us with an admirable illustration of the last. Although its subject is "the Gospel of God," it was not written to unbelievers, but "to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called saints" (Rom. 1:7), and that "to the end ye may be established." (v. 2.) Established in what? In the truth of the gospel. And therefore the apostle unfolds for them the gospel, in which "the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith." (v. 17.)

But as if he would say you must not suppose you know all now, at the end of his letter, the apostle just hints at the existence of another revelation of the greatest importance. This he gives in a kind of postscript, when he had twice already brought the epistle to a close with the usual benediction. As if it were a necessary addendum. He was a minister of the Church as well as of the gospel (Col. 1:23-25; Eph. 3:2-11), and though his letter was more occupied with the last, he would not omit the first or disconnect it from the gospel. He would thus awaken a kind of holy inquisitiveness as to what this further truth might be. And accompanied, as the brief reference is, with such a force of authority - the strongest assertion of authority that I know of in scripture - "According to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith," it was calculated to awaken in their souls a zealous enquiry after this truth, which is here only suggested, in order that they might yield to it the obedience of faith. (Rom. 16:25-26.)

We see in this passage too a confirmation of what we have already had in 1 Tim. 2:4, viz., that God would have "all men come to the knowledge of the truth" as well as to be saved. It was not a favoured few that God had in His mind, but "all men," that "the revelation of the mystery" might be "made known to all nations for the obedience of faith." Alas! alas! how few of those who are saved have yielded it the obedience of faith, not to speak of "all nations." How few of the saved in these days have even concerned themselves to enquire, "What is this wondrous mystery which has been made manifest according to the commandment of the everlasting God for the obedience of faith?" And even of those who have a measure of knowledge about it, how few, alas! are seeking to walk in the power and practical effect of it.

In closing I would seek to press on my reader's conscience how far you are yielding this truth the obedience of faith? And if saved, are you seeking to make progress in "the knowledge of the truth," the second desire of God our Saviour for all men? And not only to make progress yourself, but to live it out and to make it known to others? W. G. B.