If Our Salvation Were Dependent on Our “Choice” -
How Many Would be Saved?
Lorraine Day, M.D
The basis of the salvation of all mankind is Christ’s death for sinners, followed by His resurrection and exaltation. The faithfulness of the One Who shed His blood for all is what brings about life’s justifying for all (Rom. 3:22; 5:8,18,19). It is in Christ Who died for our sins and was roused that all who are dying in Adam will be vivified (1 Cor 15:3,4,22). The exaltation of Christ with all bowing in the name of Jesus, the Saviour, and all acclaiming His Lordship for the glory of God the Father arises from His obedience to the death of the cross (Phil 2:8-11). The reconciliation to God of ALL on earth and in the heavens is accomplished through the blood of the cross of the Son of God’s love (Col 1:13-20). It is all of God through Christ.
As we have seen, the apostle Paul guides us toward a prayerful concern for all mankind on the basis of God’s will (not “desire”) to save all.
“I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for ALL men:
“For kings, and for all that are in prominent places; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence.
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour:
“Who WILL have ALL men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:1-4
Paul encourages us in devoutness in light of the fact that God is the Saviour, not only of the believers but of ALL mankind.
“This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation.
“For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust n the living God, who is the Saviour of all mankind (1 Tim 4:8-12).
A similar pattern is displayed in Paul’s letter to Titus.
“For the grace of God made its advent for salvation to ALL humanity,
“Teaching us that, disowning irreverence and worldly desires, we should live sanely and justly and devoutly in the current eon.” Titus 2:11,12
Paul’s principal concern in this passage is to remind Titus of the practical power of the evangel (gospel) in the believer’s life. The evangel of God’s grace trains us. But in referring to God’s grace, the apostle makes special reference to its relation to ALL. We have seen that this connection of God’s purpose for all with His special purpose for us is found in other passages from Paul’s writings, such as the following:
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the likeness of Adam’s transgression, who is the type of Him that was to come (Jesus).
But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. (The free gift is not like the false step of Adam). For if through the offence of one (Adam), the many (ALL) be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by One man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto the (same) many (ALL).
And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of the many offences unto justification.
For if by one man’s offence (Adam’s) death reigned by the one: much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by One Jesus Christ.)
Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon ALL men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of One (one righteous act), the free gift came upon ALL men unto justification of life.
For as by one man’s disobedience the many (ALL) were made sinners, so by the obedience of One shall the (same) many (ALL) be made righteous. Romans 5:14-19
And having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile ALL unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be on earth or in heaven,
And you who were sometimes alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
In the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight. Colossians 1:20-22
For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL MANKIND, especially of those that believe.
These things command and teach. 1 Tim 4:10,11
Once again we find that this grace involves the salvation of ALL humanity.
This is brought out in Darby’s translation where we read:
For the grace of God which carries with it salvation for ALL men has appeared, teaching us. . .”
And the New Revised Standard Version:
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to ALL, training us. . .”
But apparently such translations seem to the traditionalist to say too much about the effects of God’s grace that the Jerusalem Bible paraphrases the passage as follows:
“You see, God’s grace has been revealed, and it has made salvation possible for the whole human race:”
And the New World translation says:
“For the undeserved kindness of God which brings salvation to all sorts of men has been manifested.”
Of course Paul did not use the word “possible” or speak of “all sorts of” people, it is God’s will to same all of humanity:
“Who WILL have ALL men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth.”
Such attempts to qualify Paul’s actual words are designed to preserve the false doctrine of the organized church that not ALL humanity will be saved.
Why mention salvation in relation to ALL humanity in this context at all if these or other loopholes are to be understood? The use of the term “possible” is intended to qualify the significance of God’s grace; it suggests that what God has done in saving sinners is not sufficient for saving anyone unless “we do our part.” It implies that nothing was actually achieved for anyone when Christ died for sinners, and that it depends on the human being for the cross to have any meaning to the sinner. It is meant to restrict and dilute what the apostle says.
The use of the gloss “all sorts of” is equally puzzling. It is generally defended by noting Paul’s reference to “aged men” and “aged women” and younger men” and “slaves” in Titus 2:1-10. These are certainly different sorts of people. But the fact that those being saved today include old people and young, slaves and free, only confirms the truth that Christ died for everyone and that salvation is not at all dependent on human works or standing.
We rejoice that God’s present calling includes sinners of all ages and vocations, all nationalities and races, male and female, young and old. But if a corollary of this present inclusiveness is that many people of every sort will eternally be excluded from God’s gratuitous grace, then the joy and strength we get from this passage is considerably dimmed and our comprehension of God’s grace considerably confused.
When this feature of diversity among believers is associated with a conviction that present unbelievers can never be saved, the whole point of the passage becomes strangely twisted. This sort of thinking is more likely to train human beings in callous self-satisfaction and hypocrisy; or, on the other hand, in crippling anxiety and anguish over the lost, or even more likely to continued fluctuation between these evils of mind, than in a spirit of sanity, justice and devoutness.
It is the grace of God as manifested in the death of Christ and its effects for the salvation of all human beings that is in view here, and it is this alone that serves to discipline the believer in his and her daily living. The words “salvation for ALL humanity” must not be made to draw attention away from God or distort and confuse the meaning of His wisdom and righteousness and love. To do so is to lead us away from faithfulness and reverence, and lead us to a twisted view of a God who “plays favorites.”
The apostle is concerned with the effects of the grace of God on believers in their present lives. These effects are reflected in our thinking as well as our action. The grace of God trains the believer in a good state of mind as well as good conduct. It leads to sanity and devoutness as well as right and just behavior.
These are qualities that are essential to Titus’ service. But n pointing to God’s grace, which motivates such thinking and acting, Paul is concerned that God’s grace be seen in relation to its significance for ALL people. God’s grace (to use various connecting terms inserted by different English translations) “bring” or “comes with” or is “for” salvation to ALL humanity. The grace of God that has made its advent in the death of Christ for sinners means salvation to ALL humanity. And in that God’s grace has this wide and glorious significance it has a powerful impact on us who believe, a sure and effective impact of sanity in relation to the world in which we live, and justice (or righteousness) in our deeds, and a healthy and growing reverence toward God.
Paul has already drawn attention to this. Slaves who are believing that in His grace God is their Saviour and that His grace means ultimately the salvation of ALL mankind are led appropriately and naturally to a sane and just subjection to their owners and a devout and faithful walk before God (Titus 2:9-13). Under the effects of God’s grace, they are not obsessed with fears and resentment and covetousness as so often happens in human affairs. Their realm is inherent in the heavens. God is working all together for their good. Their afflictions are momentary and light in relation to the glory to come. But beyond themselves, they are aware that God’s grace means that everyone, including their masters, who may not be presently saved from dependency on their transitory riches and power, having no enjoyment of Christ as their expectation God’s grace means salvation for them as well, in God’s own time.
What could be more sane? What could be more productive of righteousness and devoutness than a faith centered upon the blessed advent of God’s grace for salvation to all which is revealed in the evangel?
Hence Paul instructs Titus to “be speaking what is becoming to sound teaching” (Titus 2:1). It is the sound teaching that centers on the advent, the coming into this world, of God’s grace for salvation to all humanity, even on His kindness and His love for humanity (Titus 3:4), that will guide the believers, both aged and young, both men and women, into sober and sound and good lives (Titus 2:1-8).
It is this gospel that ultimately embraces the whole of humanity in the saving work of God that trains us who are believing. At the root of the Greek word for “train” is the term hit. Nothing can hit us so constructively and effectively as the grace of God in its vast scope and rich blessedness, keeping us from irreverence and worldly desires and transforming our lives in the current eon.
The Effects of Error
On the other hand, the dogma of everlasting hell is likely to train its supporters in restlessness and worry or in callousness. More often than not these qualities are all mixed together. There are frequently feelings of dread and heavy responsibility; mixed here with depression and hopelessness, mixed there with self-satisfaction and pride along with a spirit of prideful scorn toward others. With such focusing on the human aspect there can be little room for growth in realization of God and reverence toward Him.
This is not sanity as shown by the tone of much that passes itself off for “evangelization,” or by the popular dogma of future eternal dualism in heaven and hell. What a disaster human tradition and inconsistent Bible translation have made of the scriptural teaching concerning the significance of God’s grace in the giving of His Son for sinners! What a mess has been made of the evangelical truth of salvation to humanity through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!
If One Died For the Sake of All
When Christ came into the world He came to save sinners.
This is a faithful saying (meaning: this IS the Truth!), and worthy of all acceptation (and should be accepted and believed by everyone), that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Tim 1:15
All mankind are sinners.
“For ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Romans 3”23
Consequently, Christ came to save ALL mankind. He died for ALL.
“For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if One died for ALL, then ALL were dead (symbolically along with Christ’s death).
And that He died for ALL, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Cor 5:14,15
For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus
Who gave Himself a ransom for ALL, to be testified in due time.” 1 Tim 2:5,6
As it is true for us who believe, it is true for ALL that God demonstrates His love in that while we are still sinners Christ died for our sakes.
But God demonstrates His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
But it is not simply that what Christ has done for us He has done for ALL, or that since God is our Saviour He is the Saviour of ALL. As we have seen in our survey of key passages from Paul’s epistles concerning the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection, God would have us appreciate that what He has gained for us as believers is solid and true and blessed because He has gained it for ALL.
Hence it is in Chris Who died for our sins and was roused (1 Cor 15:3,4) that ALL will ultimately be vivified. Our subjection to the Lord is one part of that great process of rule that ends with God All in all (1 Cor 15:24-28). Because Christ was obedient to the death of the cross, God exalts Him with the highest of names, that in the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue acclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord for the glory of God the Father (Phil 2:7-11).
“Every knee will bow and every tongue will acclaim Jesus Christ is Lord. . . to the glory of God the Father.” Obviously, they will not be “acclaiming Jesus Christ as Lord” through “clenched teeth” or by force, because that would not glorify God. Everyone will have had his or her heart changed and will acknowledge Jesus Christ as Lord freely and with great enthusiasm. They ALL will have become “one with Him.”
God is the Saviour of ALL mankind, and thus in a special way He is the Saviour of us who are believing. But this is not something we have achieved or even contributed to. It tells us what God has done in giving His Son for us. It reveals God’s heart of love and speaks of His wisdom and power and righteousness.
The fact that we understand this great truth of Universal Restoration the saving of ALL mankind has nothing to do with our piety or our intelligence. It has happened only because God has opened our mind and heart so we can understand it, as He will do eventually for everyone in due time.
This knowledge of God’s saving of ALL mankind puts a special responsibility on us to teach it to others. In fact we are “commanded” to teach this Good News, instead of the dogma of the organized church that teaches God “desires” to save all mankind, but He is impotent to actually bring it about. It is taught that our “choice” is necessary to bring about God’s “will.” Thus, God is hamstrung by the “choices” of humanity in His effort to “save the world” a false doctrine that sets man’s “will” above God’s will, a false doctrine that makes “man” his own “god.”
But God says otherwise:
For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL mankind, especially of those that believe (those who have faith; those who “believe” before they “see”),
These things command and teach. 1 Tim 4:10,11
It is this wonderful Good News of the saving of ALL mankind that changes our heart to understand that God loves everyone the same, that He is “no respecter of persons,” that salvation is all about God and His character of love and not about us, that every person in the world is truly our brother and sister.
(From “The Advent of God’s Grace, Unsearchable Riches, November 2001, pp 261-268)