Most of us want everything to be understandable, even logical. Some can’t accept mystery of any sort. Jesus Christ has revealed to us many things about God, but not everything. Some mysteries still persist. They may be mysteries because it is outside of our mental capability to comprehend the answer–like the Trinity. Perhaps God feels it is best to withhold some information because we would misuse it–like the date of Christ’s return. I’m not sure into what category the Theologian’s cross falls.
What’s the Theologians’ Cross you say? It is the explanation of how it can be that God wants everybody to be saved, but only a relatively few are.
The Bible is explicit about both sides of this seeming contradiction. In 1 Timothy 2:4, Paul says,
This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
There is no reason to doubt the accuracy or sincerity of this statement. It is God’s will and nature to seek the salvation of all. God loves “the world”, not a select subset of the world. Logic would tell you that if God is all-powerful and His desire is to save all, then all will be saved. I wish that were right.
In the passage I like the least in the Bible, Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says,
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
So how can this be? It is clear that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. If there were alternate routes, then Jesus would not have been asked to do what He did. Jesus’ incarnation, life, forsakenness, death and resurrection is an awful costly way to create a way to Heaven. So the road is narrow because Jesus is that road. But it is the Holy Spirit who makes believers and connects them to Jesus. Why can’t the Holy Spirit reach all? Herein lies the Theologians’ Cross. I don’t know.
The fact of this should temper our expectations but not dampen our willingness to share Christ with others. People do come to faith, and they are saved. But some will resist and persist. The reason may be genetic, brain structure, an act of will, a flaw in the soul, something I don’t know anything about. The one reason I will take off the list is that it is just arbitrary. Some, in speaking about God’s sovereign power to choose the “elect” equate God’s “choice” to an arbitrary choice. That would make the statement of God’s desire to save all insincere.
Whatever the answer is, I’m sure that it breaks God’s heart. It breaks mine.