“God Desires All People to Be Saved” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost
September 18, 2022

“God Desires All People to Be Saved” (1 Timothy 2:1-15)

From time to time the Pew Research Center, an organization that tracks religious trends in America, comes out with a new study. This past week they issued their latest report, called “Modeling the Future of Religion in America: How the U.S Religious Landscape Could Change over the Next 50 Years.” Based on findings from recent decades, they are projecting how things could look in the future if current trends continue. The main question in this study is what percentage of Americans will identify as Christians in the future. Going back to the 1970s and even into the early 1990s, 90% of Americans identified as Christians in 1992. That number started to drop in the mid-’90s. By 2002, the percentage had dropped to 78%. Now, in 2022, the percentage of Americans identifying as Christians is down to 63%. From 90% to 63% in just thirty years. Meanwhile, the percentage of “religiously unaffiliated,” the so-called “nones,” has risen to approximately 30%.

Now what if these trends continue? In this study, the Pew Research Center says the most likely scenario is that by the year 2050, Christians will lose their majority status in America and be down to only 47% of the population, barely outnumbering the 43% who will have no religious affiliation at all.

So how do we react and respond to these discouraging numbers? More important, what does God think about it? And the good news is that, in the words of our Epistle today, “God our Savior . . . desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” And God has provided the way for that to happen. And so our theme this morning: “God Desires All People to Be Saved.”

God desires all people to be saved. But the problem is, and increasingly so, that people don’t even think they need to be saved, let alone care about how God has provided the way for that to happen. They don’t think they need saving. They don’t think they need to be saved from their sins, because nothing is sin anymore. What used to be universally agreed upon as sin, no longer is. All forms of sexual immorality now are approved: premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex, adultery. “Hey, it’s your thing; do what you want to do.” Unscriptural divorce–divorce for any cause, not just for the legitimate reasons of adultery or desertion–now has become “no-fault divorce,” as though such a thing were possible. Homosexual behavior has gone from being shameful perversion, which it is, to prideful celebration, a view reinforced by media, education, corporations, and government.

Americans don’t think they need saving from their sins. Likewise, increasingly, they don’t think they need saving from death. We have softened the reality of death in our culture. We detach ourselves from death. We distance ourselves. Death happens in nursing homes and hospital rooms. We don’t see it happening. Funerals are no longer “funerals.” Now they are “celebrations of life.” We don’t like to think about what happens to a person after they die. But of course “he was a good person” and “God must have needed another angel.”

So, if people don’t think they need saving from their sins, and they don’t think they need saving from death, they’re not going to think they need a Savior. Thus the decline in self-identifying Christians, because Christianity is all about a Savior from sin and death.

“God our Savior desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” That is the truth: We do need saving from sin and death. And God does desires to save us. God desires, he eagerly wants, to save us. Yes, he does. This is what the Bible teaches. For example, in Ezekiel 18 the Lord says: “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?” Or in Ezekiel 33: “As I live, declares the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” Or 2 Peter 3: “The Lord is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” This is the same teaching as here in 1 Timothy 1: “God our Savior desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

You see, God does not want to condemn you for your sins, however bad they have been. God does not want to cast you into eternal death and hell. No, God wants you to recognize your sins and repent of them. God wants you to know the truth, how things really are, not what the world, the devil, and your own sinful flesh will tell you. God’s fervent desire is to save you, to deliver you from death and hell, so that you will not perish eternally. God wants to bring you into his kingdom of light and life, new and eternal life, walking in the light of the truth.

And God has provided the way for that to happen. You know the verse, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” And then verse 17: “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” God does not want you to perish, but rather to have eternal life. That’s why he sent his Son into the world, to accomplish just that.

Our text puts it like this: “God our Savior desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” It is in and through Christ Jesus that God has provided the way for us to be saved. It’s through Christ Jesus, who he is and what he has done for us.

Who is he? He is the eternal Son of God, who, as we confess in the Nicene Creed, “for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven . . . and was made man.” The man Christ Jesus, God in the flesh. He came to deliver us sinners from sin and death. To do that, he had to become man himself, so that there would be one man who would keep God’s law perfectly and attain righteousness. And because as true man he is at the same time also true God, his righteousness has infinite value. As your representative, his righteousness is credited to your account. In Christ, through faith in him, you, a sinner, are counted as righteous before God. What an undeserved blessing!

“There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Notice, there is one mediator, not many. The only one who can save you is Jesus Christ. Mohammed with his made-up “Allah” cannot save you. Buddha cannot save you. Your own “spirituality” and goodness cannot save you. No, only Jesus can. Jesus himself says in John 14: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” St. Peter says in Acts 4: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” So there are not many roads to heaven. There are not many ways to get right with God. There is just one, the God-man Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the one whom God has provided, the Savior for all men everywhere. And he is the only one we need.

“There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” Jesus is our mediator. He is the man in the middle. He bridges the gap between God and men. We were alienated, separated from God by our sins and rebellion. But Jesus brings us together. God reconciles us back to himself in the person of Christ. Jesus is our mediator. He is the man in the middle. He bridges the gap between heaven and earth. And he does this precisely as he is hanging on the cross, suspended between heaven and earth.

As our text says: “There is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all.” Jesus is our ransom. He paid the price that sets us free. Jesus Christ is our ransom, our redeemer. As we learned in the Catechism: He has redeemed me “from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil, not with gold or silver but with his holy precious blood and with his innocent suffering and death.”

And to show that he has won the victory over sin and death, this same Jesus Christ rose from the dead and lives forever. What’s more, he shares his everlasting life with you who are baptized into union with him. The Holy Spirit gives you faith to believe in Christ, and he keeps you in that faith through the gospel means of Word and Sacrament.

This is why the church’s ministry is so vital and so needed. For this is how God gets the gifts to you and to all people everywhere. Jesus has promised, “On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” God our Savior is still doing his thing through his church: He is still saving people all around the world. The church may be wheezing here in America, as more and more of our countrymen think they don’t need a Savior. Same thing in western Europe. But in other parts of the globe, the gospel is spreading and being received, and more and more people are being saved for eternity.

And even here, here in Missouri, here in this stretch from Farmington to Festus, here among your own family and friends, God has lots of people he wants to be saved. We can’t predict which ones will believe and be saved and which ones will refuse and be lost. So we just go ahead and keep on proclaiming the good news, through our church and through your own personal witness, and we pray that God will bless the result. And he will.

Published in: on September 18, 2022 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  
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