Jump to content

The Protestant Community

Christian and Theologically Protestant? Or, sincerely inquiring about the Protestant faith? Welcome to Christforums the Christian Protestant community. You'll first need to register in order to join our community. Create or respond to threads on your favorite topics and subjects. Registration takes less than a minute, it's simple, fast, and free! Enjoy the fellowship! God bless, Christforums' Staff
Register now

Fenced Community

Christforums is a Protestant Christian forum, open to Bible-believing Christians such as Presbyterians, Lutherans, Reformed, Baptists, Church of Christ members, Pentecostals, Anglicans. Methodists, Charismatics, or any other conservative, Nicene- derived Christian Church. We do not solicit cultists of any kind, including Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Eastern Lightning, Falun Gong, Unification Church, Aum Shinrikyo, Christian Scientists or any other non-Nicene, non-Biblical heresy.
Register now

Christian Fellowship

John Calvin puts forward a very simple reason why love is the greatest gift: “Because faith and hope are our own: love is diffused among others.” In other words, faith and hope benefit the possessor, but love always benefits another. In John 13:34–35 Jesus says, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Love always requires an “other” as an object; love cannot remain within itself, and that is part of what makes love the greatest gift.
Sign in to follow this  

Is it God's Desire for All Men to Be Saved?

Recommended Posts


by John Hendryx


“…This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” - 1 Tim 2: 3, 4


If God desires that all men be saved, but does not actually save all men, some might begin to question to what extent God's desires are genuine. For Him who is omnipotent, everything He desires lies within His power to achieve. This is extremely unlike you and me. I desire my friend's salvation, but I can't make it happen. There's actually very little that I can get through my own power (but this is, of course, where prayer comes in). God, however, can infallibly get everything He desires and accomplish anything He wills, according to His good pleasure. And yet, He doesn't get what He desires. What's the problem? Does His own decretive will overrule His desire? Clearly, He desires me to be more kind and gentle toward my wife. Equally clearly He desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. So, for someone who has the power to obtain His desires, why doesn't God apparently get what He wants? If we say that His desires are subject to (and lesser than) His decretive will, then we may wonder how genuine those desires really are.


Reasoning through the above data, the synergist concludes that the doctrine of unconditional election must be wrong, since this would mean that God has predetermined to graciously save some and leave others in their sin. Instead, if God really desires that all men be saved, the only logical explanation, in their mind, is that election (and therefore God's love) is conditioned on our faith. They further reason that if God desires all mankind's salvation and He doesn't, in fact, save them, even if its within His power, then the God of the Reformers (who teach election and regeneration unto faith) is schizophrenic and proven to be false. Can God genuinely desire AND act in ways that are inharmonious with His determination? Can He desire that my friend be saved and even act in such ways that he/she could be accused of "resisting the Holy Spirit" (1) and, yet at the same time, determine not to save him/her? On a surface level, this actually would appear to be a fairly reasonable argument, but when closely scrutinized, we discover it contains a fatal flaw since it actually turns out to reveal a weakness in the system of the person who raises the issue. In thinking that they have finally defeated the Reformed doctrine of election they actually end up exposing their own Achilles' heel.


Why Does This Line of Reasoning Expose the Weakness of the Questioner's System?


We must not rely purely on our autonomous reason or logic to draw important theological conclusions. Instead, we reason within the framework of the God's Self-revelation (the Scriptures), which alone should be our guide. But lets be clear that this problem of wills is not exclusively a problem for the Reformed Christian, but also for the Synergist/Arminian. Here's why. All Christians will admit that God deisres all men to obey the Ten Commandments and yet acknowledge that this desire is not fulfilled. Further, even the Synergist would have to admit that God has a decretive will that is different from his revealed will with regard to our salvation. Remember, the Synergist holds to the view that God foreknows who will choose Him and elects them based on His prior knowledge of their choice. But here is where the problem arises in their understanding the the Text. No one could consistently say that God foreknew with certainty which sinners would be lost and then claim that it is not within God's will to allow these sinners to be lost. Why did He create them? He knew what their final destiny was even before He created them. With full knowledge that they would not chose Him, it is evidently within God's providence that some sinners be lost, so He obviously has some purpose in it which we human beings cannot fully discern. In this Arminian scheme, God had to create those that He knew would perish, even against His revealed will which desires them to come to faith. Such a contradictory belief makes God subject to Fate. If the synergist were consistent, he would apply the same unhappy conclusion ( he readily applies to the Reformed view), to his own system, but this would be a fatal blow. Unfortunately, many people are content to remain inconsistent and cling to presuppositions that have been demonstrated to be false. So even while the staunch Arminian/Synergist has been shown to believe that, even in his own system, God has more than one will and acts against His clearly revealed statement that He desires all men to be saved, some will still obstinately remain there. This, in spite of the glaring truth that this would leave God acting against his own will, a helpless victim of Fate. Does the Bible have a solution?


How Does The Bible Resolve This Apparent Problem?


Now that this fatal error of the synergist is exposed it is important that we face up to the issue at hand. If God desires all men be saved why does he not save every person? Are their two conflicting wills in God? So, lets begin by answering the question, "Does God desire that all men be saved?" The short answer is “yes", as this is precisely what the text of Scripture says. In Ezekiel 18:23 God rhetorically asks: "Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?" Some well-intentioned brothers, who, in the hope of protecting the doctrine of election, even say that we must interpret the above passage to be referring only to God’s chosen people. But Not only do I believe this is exegetically incorrect but totally unnecessary for the following reasons:

On close inspection it should be apparent that passages which declare "God's desire for all to be saved" is the same kind of desire in God as His desire that I would be more kind and gentle toward my wife or that all men would obey His commands. Notice in the Ezekiel passage above it speaks of God's desire that people turn from their evil way. It is what God desires them to do and says nothing about what He will accomplish. This aspect of His will is not often fulfilled because this is His revealed will, not his secret will of decree. And we must remember that even believing that Jesus is the Son of God, is itself, a command:


"This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ...”1 John 3:23


"God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent..." Acts 17:30


It is clear, then, that God desires all men to obey His commands whether they are reprobate or not, and this includes the command to believe. (God holds them responsible for not obeying) To say it another way, God desires that all men come to faith. To conclude otherwise would be equivalent to saying that it is God's will for man to sin (since unbelief is a sin), which would be preposterous, of course. In one sense, It would be against His character to will anyone to do anything but obey His commands. Yet in another sense, it is within His will because He allows it within the framework of His providence. If God commands all men everywhere to repent and His commandment is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, then there is no other possible conclusion than to say God desires all men, elect and reprobate, to obey His commands, including the command to believe the gospel. In this way, God desires all men to be saved in the same way He desires all men to obey His commands. As I mentioned, this desire (or will) is not His "will of decree" but His "revealed will" (commanded will). The “will of decree” (or secret will) always infallibly comes to pass but His “revealed will” or His commands, although according to His desire, do not infallibly come to pass, as is obvious from the fact that we are all sinners. It is true, God came to save "His people" from their sins, and them only, but the text in 1 Tim 2: 3, 4 & 2 Peter 3:8-9 does not seem to be speaking of this concept (i.e. those the Father has given the Son). It, rather, appears to be referring to God's "revealed will" or what He commands in Scripture to all men (like Thou shalt not kill, etc.). And, from this, it is obvious that God's revealed will does not always come to fruition. In fact, each time we sin we set ourselves against what God revealed will.


So we find that God allows things to happen that He would prefer not to happen. This is referred to by theologians as His permissive (revealed) will. The Scriptures distinguish between God's secret will, embodied in his counsel of foreordination, and God's revealed will, embodied in his law. The two are often denominated God's decretive will and his preceptive will. It is by His decretive will that "He sovereignly brings to pass whatever He decrees, while His permissive will leaves room for the moral actions of His creatures." (R.C Sproul in The Invisible Hand). So we can argue that God's revealed will is an infallible guide for the life of his Church. But his secret will is not meant to be a guide at all. God's Providential hand is simply seen by us as the gradual unfolding of God's secret will. It should be clear to us then that it cannot serve as a guide for our moral behavior nor as a way to postulate who wil be saved. It might be better for the sake of understanding to differentiate these wills as God's commands and his decrees. Man is held accountable for his disobedience to God's commands (revealed will), not God's decrees. His revealed will in his law is for us and is not meant to give us a glimpse into what He plans to do with His secret will.


Deuteronomy 29:29 makes it is clear there are at least two types of wills in God. It says,


"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever"


The great theologian Jonathan Edwards explained,


"Though He hates sin in itself, yet He may will to permit it, for the greater promotion of holiness in this universality, including all things, and at all times. So, though He has no inclination to a creature's misery [He desires none perish], considered absolutely, yet He may will it, for the greater promotion of happiness in this universality." ("Concerning the Divine Decrees," The Works of Jonathan Edwards, Vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), pp. 527-28.)


Arminians consider 1 Tim 2: 3, 4 to be one of their pillar texts but they stumble here because what we "ought" to do does not necessarily imply what we "can" do (believe). The Ten Commandments, likewise, speak of what we ought to do but they do not imply that we have the moral ability to obey them. God wills that we obey His commands, but nature ("flesh and blood") never taught us the absolute necessity of fleeing to a righteousness better than our own. Only God can reveal this to us. It is obvious, then, that 1 Tim 2: 3, 4 does not refer to His will of decree, but another type of will (revealed) since it does not infallibly come to pass. The commandments of God were never meant to empower us, but rather, to strip us of trusting in our own ability so that we would come to an end of ourselves. With striking clarity, Paul teaches that this is the intent of Divine legislation (Rom 3:20, 5:20, Gal 3:19,24).


We can also catch a glimpse of the secret and revealed wills at work in the following passage on the crucifixion of Jesus:


"...this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death." Acts 2:23


God, in this text, predetermines that Jesus will be crucified by the hands of godless men. Now it is clear that God does not desire or will evil, yet he here actually preordains it through godless men because his intent is for our good.. God both desires (in one way) and does not desire (in another way) this redemptive historical event to happen. According to this text, God eternally decreed the crucifixion redemptive historical event, yet when it was carried out in time by sinful men, it was clearly contrary to the moral law, that is, God's commands. Using similar biblical logic, we can see that God, desires the salvation of all men. But it is equally clear that, preferring their sin, none desire to come to Him, thus rebelling against His moral law, flying in the face of His revealed will. He desires them to come but they run the other way. So His secret will mercifully goes into action (John 6:39) and, in love, He saves the persons whom He agreed upon in His eternal counsels.


Jesus, when He came into Jerusalem, saw the Israelites reject Him. He said:


" Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling.” Matt 23:37


Jesus truly mourns over people who are unwilling to come to Him; even the reprobate. He yearns for them to come and holds out His hands to them but they are obstinate and will not come simply because they don’t want to come. He desires that these persons be saved in the sense that He wants them to believe in Him. But they love their sin more than they love their God. This is the natural condition of all men apart from God’s grace. So he desires all men to believe, but he saves only those who He sovereignly sets His affection upon, according to the good pleasure of His will. His reasons for choosing some and not others have not been revealed to us. This is part of His secret counsel or decretive will. But rest assured that God will act according to His perfections and conspire with His wisdom to do what is right. There is, in fact, no better reason in the universe than God wills something to take place. To think otherwise is to presume on God.


So the gospel is declared to all men ... it is news for all to hear, but, due to our natural rebellion and hatred of God, all men reject God. Therefore since men are never found naturally willing to submit in faith to the humbling terms of the gospel of Christ, men will not come into the light (John 14:17; John 10:26; John 6:44; John 3:20; Rom 3:11). But Thanks be to God, who is yet merciful, coming to those He has chosen from eternity giving them eternal life. What they could not do for themselves, He mercifully does for them. Those who "have ears to hear" are the same as those whom God's favor rests. So even the desire for belief itself, like all spiritual blessings, was purchased by Christ on the cross.

Other articles on this topic:

Are There Two Wills in God? Election and God's Desire for All to be Saved by John Piper

The Will of God - Hyper-Calvinism Versus Historic Calvinism by John Hendryx

The Will of God by R.C. Sproul


(1) The Bible does teach that sinners resist the Holy Spirit every time they refuse to obey the gospel. We have never claimed that the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted. In fact. we see this kind of resistance in the world among unbelievers every day. The Scripture teaches, rather, that the Holy Spirit CAN and DOES make His gracious influences irresistable when He sovereignly chooses to do so (Acts 16:14; John 6:37, 63-65).


(2) A friend of mine sent me the following illustration which often may be true of writers: R. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, would often cry over the death of her characters. Now here is a very good example of someone decreeing what she does not desire—though absolutely sovereign over her world, she decrees what she does not like for the sake of a higher purpose she herself has established. In a greater and more mysterious way, God has ordained everything that comes to pass, including the death and damnation of the reprobate (who, through their unbelief, have rendered themselves unworthy of eternal life (Acts 13.46), though (in another way) he desires just the opposite for them and takes no pleasure in their ultimate end. So, just as we have always insisted that there’s a sense in which Christ has died for everyone who has ever lived (in the words of Owen, the atonement is unlimited in its sufficiency), even though He only dies redemptively only for the elect; so also we insist that God really does desire and offer salvation to the reprobate, even though he has not elected them, nor will the Son’s death atone for their sins, nor will the Spirit quicken their hearts—God has decreed (in one sense) what he does not desire (in another sense)!

Share this post

Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Similar Topics

    • Might be saved?

      Often we come across verse that says "might be"or "may", which would seem to mean that what's in contex is a possibility. For example: Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did perdestinate to be confirmed to the image of his son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.    But "might" and "may" don't nessearly mean that something is a maybe. But instead mean will or to do so.    Here is a verse were "might" means to do so. Matthew 12:17 That is might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet. Here we see that something takes place and then the purpose is given.  Another example of this: 2Corinthians 5:15 And that He died for all, that they should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.   Stay strong in Christ and be blessed.

      in Calvinism

    • Local Woman's Sudden Desire To Start A Small Group Definitely Has Nothing To Do With Her Work-From-Home Jewelry Sales Business

      FOOTHILL MEADOWS, CA—Local woman Tricia Powers confirmed Monday that her sudden interest in running a small group for the ladies at Redeemer Baptist Church has "absolutely nothing" to do with her recent decision to become a work-at-home sales rep for a jewelry company. The post Local Woman's Sudden Desire To Start A Small Group Definitely Has Nothing To Do With Her Work-From-Home Jewelry Sales Business appeared first on The Babylon Bee. View the original full article

      in Christian Satire

    • The Young and The Restless Star Brenda Epperson Shares How Prayer Saved Her Family from the Wildfires

      The Young and The Restless star Brenda Epperson reminding Christians of the power of prayer amid disaster. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • ‘Boy Erased’ Suggests Sexual Desire Can’t Change, So Religion Must

      One of the saddest scenes in Boy Erased—a film full of sad scenes—finds protagonist Jared (Lucas Hedges) confronting his father (Russell Crowe) about their strained relationship. Jared has come out as gay, and his father is a Baptist pastor. “There’s no changing me,” Jared tells his father, who years earlier had enrolled him in a traumatizing conversion-therapy program. “You are going to have to be the one who changes.” For Jared, there can be no meaningful father-son relationship so long as his dad thinks a gay lifestyle is sinful. “I’m gay, and I’m your son,” he says. “And both of those things are not going to change.” The father’s fidelity to Scripture’s witness on sexuality, however, is the only variable that can be changed, Jared implies. Change your view, or lose your son. This is the ultimatum implied in the scene—to Jared’s father and to anyone in the audience with LGBTQ loved ones. It’s black or white. Lose your old-fashioned religious view of sexuality, or lose us. It’s your choice. This is one of many simplistic binaries in Boy Erased, a well-acted and moving drama that nevertheless traffics in the “no shades of gray” neo-fundamentalism of contemporary progressivism. Valid Critique Based on Garrard Conley’s book Boy Erased: A Memoir of Identity, Faith, and Family, the film is ostensibly an advocacy piece presenting conversion therapy—attempting to change one’s sexual orientation through psychological and behavioral means—as unnecessary, ineffective, and dangerous malpractice that threatens the safety of LGBTQ youth. Panned by almost every mental and psychiatric health organization, banned in many countries and at least 14 U.S. states, and increasingly critiqued by evangelical institutions and organizations, gay conversion therapy appears to be a phenomenon on the wane. Films like Boy Erased (which is rated R for language and a scene of sexual assault) seek to put the proverbial nail in the coffin. When Jared comes out to his father (Crowe) and mother (Nicole Kidman) in the film, they ask, “In your heart, do you want to change?” Jared, then 19, replies, “Yes.” And he really does seem to desire change. But by the film’s end, having survived the horrors of a Memphis conversion therapy program called Love in Action, but without having his attraction to other men altered, Jared concludes that he cannot be changed. He embraces what he views as the only alternative: wholly embracing a gay identity. Tragically, the nature of “change” Jared is pitched at Love in Action is not the sort we find in the New Testament, where “new creation” growth is the byproduct of our union with Christ in the context of a community of discipleship. At Love in Action, a supposedly “Christian” organization that was also featured in a 2011 documentary, the desired change seems less about becoming like Christ than about becoming less gay and more manly. Indeed, the behavioral therapy we see in the film is fixated on training adolescent boys like Jared to become more “manly” through things like uncrossing legs, posture (the “triangle” stance is apparently the man’s stance), push ups, handshakes, and baseball swings. With a large American flag in the backdrop, the program at times feels less like Christian discipleship than military boot camp. Though the program’s leader, Victor Sykes (played by Joel Edgerton, who also directed the film) seems well-intentioned, his tactics are brutal and wrongheaded. In one scene a boy named Cameron (Britton Sear) is literally beaten with Bibles while he hunches over a coffin in a fake funeral for himself. Horrifying stuff. There is physical abuse, verbal abuse, spiritual abuse, and trauma that contributes (in at least one case) to a boy’s suicide. Boy Erased is right to critique these approaches to conversion therapy. Is Change Impossible? The problem is the film’s binary posture makes no room for any approach to sexual desire that involves change in any form. The film reflects our progressive secular culture’s oddly rigid view of sexuality as something fixed and immutable—even as this same culture insists on total gender fluidity. So one’s gender can be changed, but not one’s sexual desires? In the end, the LGBTQ movement’s conception of “change” is both internally inconsistent and also experientially depressing. Imagine being told that your unwanted desires to drink or gamble or envy are “just who you are” and that changing your desires is impossible. To suggest an unchangeable givenness to the matrix of desires that constitutes a supposedly fixed “identity” is a truly novel and unbiblical anthropology. It is a notion fundamentally at odds with a faith defined by resurrection and renewal, where to be in Christ is to be a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). By targeting Love in Action-style conversion therapy (“pray the gay away”), Boy Erased finds an easy target to justify its position that attempting to change sexual desire does more harm than good. But the film is wrong to suggest conversion therapy is the main or only way Christians approach discipleship of LGBTQ persons. Thousands of churches around the world are walking with men and women who are same-sex-attracted (SSA), working out the complexities of what discipleship and sanctification looks like for them, without asking or expecting their disordered desires to suddenly disappear. The main concern in discipling Christians who feel tension between their sexual feelings and their faith (which is really all Christians) is not sexual orientation but spiritual orientation. The latter is the root issue, affecting all of our desires and behavior, sexual or otherwise. Indeed, the most important “conversion” in the Christian life involves a changed heart posture toward God. Truly Erased Garrard Conley’s story is his story, and Boy Erased does it justice. It’s a story Christians should reckon with, listen to, and learn from. But Rosaria Butterfield’s story also exists, as does Jackie Hill Perry’s, and Christopher Yuan’s, and Sam Allberry’s, and countless others who have chosen faithfulness to Scripture and identity in Christ over faithfulness to identity in sexuality. Where are the movies about these stories? Would progressives be willing to reckon with, listen to, and learn from these stories? Boy Erased leaves the impression of a one-size-fits-all prescription for those with SSA: Don’t fight it. Don’t think it’s in any way wrong. Don’t long to be changed. Just accept who you are and live with pride. But for many Christ followers, it’s not that simple. Watch the vignettes of Catholics struggling with sexuality and faithfulness to Christ in this documentary. Watch the testimony of Beckett Cook, a Hollywood production designer who left a gay lifestyle behind when he started following Jesus. Watch CCM songwriter Dennis Jernigan tell his emotional story of freedom from a homosexual lifestyle. These stories are out there, though they’re sadly hard to find. Hollywood studios and media gatekeepers don’t like that these stories exist. You won’t see Nicole Kidman starring in a film about the life of Rosaria Butterfield. If anyone is truly being “erased” today, it is those who fall in the category of pursuing Christian faithfulness despite SSA; those who have chosen the costly path of celibacy or the complex pursuit of heterosexual marriage; those who have embraced the cost of discipleship in choosing Jesus over sexual fulfillment. We need more stories like these, showing how Jesus followers can pursue Christian faithfulness even while living with the challenges and complexities of sexual desires (which are challenging and complex whether you’re attracted to the same sex or not). Every Christian will at some point feel tension between faith and sexual desires, and films like Boy Erased suggest there is no way to manage such a tension unless one’s faith beliefs are adjusted to accommodate sexual desires. Not only is this a simplistic solution to “resolve” the tension, but it also presumes unresolved tension has no place or value in life. Just as conversion therapy prescribes a too-simple solution to the complex struggle of SSA, so too does Boy Erased, just on the other extreme. More Complicated Given the dichotomous thinking in Boy Erased (“Your son is not changing, so your faith must”), it’s no surprise when Jared’s mom (Kidman) changes her faith. By the end of the film she no longer attends church regularly, and she sums up her beliefs this way: “I love God. God loves me. And I love my son. It’s that simple. For your father it’s a bit more complicated.” It’s more complicated because, while Jared’s father (Crowe) loves his son and says so in the film, he can’t just throw away Scripture. Enduring the pain of managing this tension—loving Scripture and loving his son, without assuming the latter requires abandoning the former—makes Crowe’s character the most interesting and heroic of the film, even while he makes mistakes along the way. But Boy Erased casts his “more complicated” journey in a condescending way, as a quaint (if somewhat stubborn) brand of old-fashioned fundamentalism bound to fall apart in time, whenever reason and science prevail. Indeed, the movie presents faith as a largely anti-intellectual pursuit necessarily in conflict with science. A doctor character (Cherry Jones) says she is a religious woman—“but I also went to medical school . . . I hold science in one hand and God in the other.” This lazy binary (faith vs. science) shows up elsewhere in the film. At one point Jared visits an art exhibit titled (literally) “God vs. Science.” He meets the artist, a gay man named Xavier (Théodore Pellerin), who listens to Jared as he describes his spiritual tension: “I imagine I am Job . . . God and the Devil are having a bet over me.” Xavier neatly resolves the tension for Jared by declaring, “God is in all of us.” I’m reminded of what Ross Douthat notes in Bad Religion about heresies—that they almost always stem from “a desire to resolve Christianity’s contradictions, untie its knotty paradoxes, and produce a cleaner and more coherent faith.” Whether the tension of faith and science or the tension of sexual desires and biblical teachings, the either/or approach is certainly easier. But it is likelier to be heretical. Sadly, the tensions felt by Christians like Jared are too easily resolved in Boy Erased. When God’s revelation in Scripture feels harsh or disapproving of one’s feelings, it is replaced with the “revelation” of autonomy and sexual liberation. This is championed in the form of a song, “Revelation,” repeated a few times in the film. Gay singer/songwriter Troye Sivan (who has a small acting role in the film) sings: You’re a revelation / Won’t you liberate me now / From a holy bound . . . It’s a revelation / There’s no hell in what I found / No kingdom shout / How the tides are changing / As you liberate me now / And the walls come down. But is this liberation “from a holy bound” really liberating? Is the path of choosing self-fulfillment over faithfulness to Scripture really revelatory? True Liberation One of the saddest things about Boy Erased is that Jared is sent away from his church in his time of need. He’s sent to a “specialist” parachurch program to work on his temptations in a context far from his local church family. But church members tempted by greed or pornography or heterosexual lust are not sent away to specialist camps to be “fixed.” Why is Jared? Same-sex-attracted Christians should be discipled within the church family, along with everyone else. Their cost of discipleship may look higher than others, but as Sam Allberry has pointed out, the cost is high for everyone: Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The key word is anyone. To follow Jesus, all of us will have to say a deep and profound no to some of our deepest intuitions and longings. Jesus doesn’t put “self” in front of “identity”; he puts it in front of “denial.” This call needs to be spelled out. Jesus goes on to say that there is a sense of “losing our life” in following him (v. 35), that there will be times when it feels like obedience to him is taking life from us. And yet the glorious paradox is that by going through this loss, we are actually gaining life. By denying self and following Jesus we don’t become less who we are; we become most truly ourselves. In the upside-down kingdom of God, this is what true liberation looks like. It is the freedom to follow Christ rather than our fickle hearts; the freedom of being caught up in God’s story rather than our own; the freedom of not being slaves to our desires. God doesn’t promise the removal of same-sex desires, or heterosexual marriage, to those who, like Jared in Boy Erased (at least in the beginning), wish for “change.” God promises himself. To have God, are we willing to say no to our disordered desires? Contrary to the tragic reductionism of Boy Erased, there are many paths of faithfulness and flourishing for the Christian with SSA. There are certainly paths of unfaithfulness—sanctifying one’s desires rather than submitting them to God; shrugging off Scripture’s authority when it feels confining. But many are walking the faithful paths daily. They are in your church. They are in your family. Their testimonies need to be heard. They need your love and accountability on their journey, just as you need theirs. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events

    • Bible Took Bullets, Saved WWI Veteran’s Life

      The daughter of a British World War I veteran says a bullet-scarred pocket Bible saved her father’s life. View the full article

      in Christian Current Events


Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.