Saving Believers Especially
1 Timothy 4:10 says something we don’t expect. “God is the savior of all men.” All of them. That is a big statement, and one not readily accepted. In a world so full of suffering, most people shake their fist at God because they know he could do something yet he seems unconcerned. But in actuality he has done something. He has kept them out of hell. The one thing they deserve is the one thing he has not given them. God has saved them from instant judgement and instead given them some measure of sunshine and rain, some measure of food and water, some measure of gladness, and, most importantly, some measure of time to recognize the great measure of grace from a great God. Romans 2:4 “Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
God has done this for all people. But in 1 Timothy 4:10 Paul turns our attention to what he has done in Christians. If God is a Savior for all men, what should be said about his work for Christians? Paul says God is especially saving them. Has gone above and beyond in his saving work for the elect. It is over the top. The Scripture does not leave us guessing though. God is saving Christians in every conceivable way. God is:
- Saving them from unbelief by giving them faith. 1:29
- Saving them from hardness by granting them repentance. 2 Tim. 2:25
- Saving them from a wasted life by bearing fruit through them. Jn 15:4-5
- Saving them from small growth by stretching them. 2 Cor. 1:8-9
- Saving them from self-deception by testing them. 1 Pet. 4:12
- Saving them from habitual sin by disciplining and pruning them. 15:1; Heb. 12:10
- Saving them from foolishness by giving them wisdom. James 1:5
- Saving them from isolation by putting them in a body. Heb. 10:25
- Saving them from mediocrity by moving them from glory to glory. 2 Cor. 3:18
God is doing all of this and more for he, and he alone, is the Savior. And all of it is to know him more and be conformed more to his glorious, happy, fruit-bearing, image. Yet, in a paradoxical mystery, God calls us to pursue all of this with him.
Philippians 2:12b–13, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
So he is doing it. He is the decisive and foundational one who is working and saving. But he calls us to work it out as well. So this is the call; rest and rejoice in this saving God, while you strive according to grace. Or as 2 Tim 2:1 “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”