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Amyraut on God’s Conditional Will for the Salvation of All Men

September 3, 2008


All of the New Testament from beginning to end teaches this to us. Christ, notably, does so in these beautiful passages: ‘As Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so also it is necessary that the Son of Man be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him should not perish, but should have eternal life. For God has so loved the world that he has given his only Son, so that whoever believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life . For God has not sent his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world be saved by him. Whoever believes in him will not be condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already. For he has not believed on the name of the only Son of God.’ (John 3:14-16) Furthermore, ‘Whoever believes in me has life eternal, and whoever does not believe, the wrath of God abides on him.’ (John 3:36) And there is no need for more proofs in a thing so clear and uncontested. His beloved disciple uses a most emphatic expression. ‘If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater. For this is the witness of God, of which he has testified of his Son, that God has given us eternal life and that this life is in his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the witness of God in him, whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, for he has not believed the testimony that God has given of his own Son.’ (I John 5:9, 10 ) So that in not receiving Christ as Saviour one rejects the only means of obtaining salvation, and beside the sin that there is in despising so great a grace as God has offered there is, moreover, this crime also of accusing God of falsehood in not believing the testimony which he has given concerning his Son. Thus, if you consider the care that God has taken to procure the salvation of the human race by sending his Son in to the world and the things that he has done and suffered to this end, the grace is universal and presented to all men. But if you consider the condition which he has necessarily established- to believe in his Son-, you will find that while this compassion of giving men a Redeemer proceeds from a marvelous love toward the human race, nevertheless this love does not exceed this limit- to give salvation to men, provided that they do not refuse it. If they refuse it, he deprives then of hope and they by their unbelief aggravate their condemnation. Consequently these words, ‘God desires the salvation of a ll men,’ (I Tim 2:4) receive this necessary limitation, providing that they believe.’ If they do not believe, he does not desire it. This will to make the grace of salvation universal and common to all men is in this way conditional, that without the accomplishing of the condition, it is entirely in effectual. Let us see therefore on what the fulfilling of condition, and consequently the particular efficacy of universal grace, depends.

Moyse Amyraut, Brief Treatise on Predestination and its Dependent Principles, trans., by Richard Lum Richard. Th.D. diss, 1986, 42-44.

[Note, on ‘conditional willing’ see Calvin on Ezekiel 18:23, 31-32 and 33:11; on John 3:16, see John Calvin on John 3:16; on the language of ‘universal grace’ see Wolfgang Musculus on the Redemption of Mankind. Amyraut is using an older vocabulary which was more common in its own day.]

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