We have seen a few things in this series of posts. First of all, we have seen clearly from the Fathers themselves the doctrine that God does not will the salvation of all men without exception. This should not be so hard to grasp. If one accepts the Biblical teaching of Election, one must acknowledge its counterpart, Reprobation. How, by any stretch of the imagination, could God have reprobated some men before the foundation of the earth, and yet truly desire their salvation?
Appealing to mystery, paradox or the infinite nature of God is a cop-out. Not only is it a cop-out, but it is completely unnecessary, since Scripture never shies away from making such assertions, even for a second. If God wanted all men to be saved, it is incompatible with His omnipotence for it to not come to pass. God saves whom He wills and damns whom He wills. He predestined some and reprobated the rest because He wills so – and this was His intention before He considered the fall of Adam and the sins of men.
God is love to those on whom He has mercy and spares from His wrath, elect as they are in Christ. The rest He hates unto everlasting damnation, not because of their sins, which He has ordained (not merely permits) and facilitates but of His own good pleasure and counsel, according to which He works all things.
When the early Fathers rightly asserted that there is no salvation outside the Church, they were not saying that salvation is a gift of the Church. Rather, they were merely echoing the teaching of Scripture seen in the Old Testament with regard to God’s people. Salvation was limited to Israel. There were non-Israelites who were saved in the Old Testament era. But without exception this was facilitated by their joining themselves unto God’s covenant people.