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                      THE CASE FOR UNIVERSAL SALVATION: PART TWO  

 

Scriptural support for universal salvation:

       Scripture shows humans are reconciled to God through the death of His Son and humans are saved through the life of His Son. The death of Jesus reconciles us to God in that it removes the sin that prevented us from having a relationship with God. We are justified before God by the shed blood of Jesus. This justification removes the eternal death penalty for sin and allows for the granting of eternal life through the resurrected life of Jesus. Scripture shows this process was meant to apply to all of humanity.

       Romans 5:8-10: But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him! For if, when we were God's enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life!

       2nd Corinthians 5:18-19: All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.

       Colossians 1:21-22:  Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.  

       These three passages of Scripture are highly instructive as to showing that it is the death of Christ which has facilitated reconciliation with God and not the result of anything we do. Salvation is seen as facilitated through the resurrected life of Jesus. Furthermore, we see reconciliation with God resulting in God no longer counting men's sins against them.  Paul writes that this reconciliation pertains to the world. This certainly indicates all humans are in view here. It is through the death of Jesus that all humans are presented holy and without blemish before God.

       Paul wrote the Corinthians that "God made him who had no sin to be made sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Humans become righteous before God not because of anything they do but because of what Christ did. This being the case, there is no reason to believe any human is excluded from becoming righteous before God. Paul taught that Jesus died as a ransom for all men.

       1st Timothy 2:3-6: This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men--the testimony given in its proper time.

       This passage is very instructive.  In God saying He wants all men to be saved, is God just wishing and hoping that all men are saved or is He saying something much more emphatic?   The Greek word rendered "wants" is θέλει (thelei). This word is used by NT writers 209 times and can be seen by context to over and over again relate to something actually happening and not just somebody hoping, wishing or wanting something to happen.  Thayer's Greek Lexicon defines this word as "to will, have in mind, intend, to be resolved or determined, to purpose."  The KJV renders 1st Timothy 2:4 as Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

       Paul writes that God “wants/will have all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.” What "truth" is Paul speaking of?  Paul appears to define the truth he is speaking of with his next statement. The truth is "that there is one God and one mediator between that one God and men, the man Christ Jesus who gave Himself as a ransom for all men." The truth is that Jesus is the Savior of all men.

       God is sovereign and whatever He wants He gets. It would appear that God is more than hoping and wishing that all men be saved. It is his will, purpose and intention that all men be saved.  John wrote that "the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world" (1st John 4:14). John the Baptist said of Jesus "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29b). Jesus told Nicodemus that "God did not send his Son into the world to condemn (Greek krino) the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17). Jesus said “But I, (Jesus) when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself" (John 12:32).

       Paul wrote to Timothy that Jesus "has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2nd Timothy 1:10). Has Jesus destroyed death for only a comparatively few of the multiple billions of humans who have lived and died and are living and dying?  How could that possibly be the case in view of the many Scriptures that indicate Jesus died for the sins of the world and it is God’s will that all men be saved?

       Paul wrote that "God, is the Savior of all men" (1st Timothy 4:10). Apostle John wrote to his first century audience that “He (Jesus) is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world" (1 John 2:2).

       To the Romans Paul wrote: "For God has bound all men over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all" (Romans 11:32). All men are said to be bound over to disobedience but God will have mercy on them all. The Greek word rendered "bound" is συγκλείω (sugkleió) and means to be totally enclosed and shut up without means of escape (See Thayer's Greek Lexicon). It is only through the mercy of God facilitated through the Christ event that man can escape being bound over to disobedience. What man escapes is the consequence of disobedience which is eternal death. Paul writes of all men being bound over to disobedience and of God having mercy on all men. 

       Paul is here again reiterating the fact that though all humans sin and therefore die in Adam, all humans receive God’s mercy which is to say all humans have their sins forgiven and are thus made alive in Christ. 

       To Titus Paul wrote; “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy” (Titus 3:4-5).

       To the Ephesians Paul wrote: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1) But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved" (Ephesians 2:4-5).

       To both Titus and the Ephesians, Paul instructs that it is because of God’s mercy that we are saved and made alive through the Christ event. This is consistent with Paul saying "the wages of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).  As can be seen, it is the mercy of God that is the key to human salvation.  Being delivered from eternal death is all about the mercy of God.  Is God’s mercy limited to just a relatively few of the multiple billions of humans God has allowed to live and die or is it extended to all of humanity?  The passages of Scripture we have thus far reviewed teach us that God’s mercy is an inclusive mercy.  It applies to all humans.      

       At one point during His ministry, Jesus spoke of how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. His disciples were taken aback by this and asked how it is possible for anyone to the saved. Here is Jesus’ answer.

      Matthew 19:26: Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

       There are OT passages that teach that all humans will be blessed. In Genesis 12:3 God is recorded as telling Abraham that "all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Abraham).  In Genesis 22:18 God tells Abraham that "through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed."  What does it mean to be blessed through Abraham?

       It is apparent from Scripture that Jesus, as the offspring of Abraham, is the vehicle through whom all peoples and nations will be blessed. Such blessing is Jesus' sacrificial atonement which allows for the blessing of forgiveness of the death penalty for sin and the granting of eternal life.  To be blessed through Abraham is to be given eternal life though the descendant of Abraham, namely our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. The indication is that this blessing is for all people.

       Paul told Timothy that Christ Jesus destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2nd Timothy 1:10). Did Jesus destroy death only for some humans or did He destroy death for all humans?  Did Jesus bring life and immortality to light only for some humans but not all?  We have already seen that all humans who have ever lived are to face a judgment subsequent to physical/biological death. This means that all humans are made alive subsequent to having physically died.  Is this being made alive a temporal making alive or is it an eternal (immortal) making alive?

       Since Scripture reveals that Jesus has destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light, it would seem to follow that to be made alive in Christ is to be made alive forever (immortal life). In Revelation 1:18 Jesus is quoted as saying, "I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” Paul wrote "since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him" (Romans 6:10). If we are to be made alive as Christ was made alive, then Paul saying “in Christ all will be made alive” (1st Corinthians 15:22) appears to mean all humans are made eternally alive which is to say salvation is universal. All humans are delivered from the eternal death penalty for sin and granted eternal life. To experience salvation is to be released from the penalty of eternal death due to sin.

         If all humans are saved from eternal death, for what purpose are all humans judged? Paul said “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2nd Corinthians 5:10). While this was said within the context of Paul expecting such judgment to occur at the anticipated first century return of Christ, as covered earlier, judgment appears to apply to all of humanity subsequent to biological death.

       If indeed all of humanity is saved in that all humanity has their eternal sin death atoned for by the Christ event, for what purpose are all humans judged?  It can’t be for the purpose of determining whether one is granted eternal life since that is a given due to God’s mercy expressed in and through the Christ event. 

The purpose for judgment:

       It is apparent that judgment is for the purpose of determining the level of reward and/or punishment for ones behavior while in the flesh.  We see this in the judgment passages we have already covered. Jesus taught that in the judgment it would be more tolerable for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh than for people living in His day. Jesus said the Queen of the South will rise at the judgment and condemn the men of the generation Jesus was addressing. What did Jesus mean by these statements?

       As covered above, Paul wrote the Corinthians that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2nd Corinthians 5:10). In Ephesians 6:8, Paul writes that slaves should obey their earthly masters just as they would obey Christ because “the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he has done whether he is slave or free.” In Colossians 3:24-25 Paul instructs slaves to work hard for their masters as if they were working for the Lord “since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward (Greek ἀνταπόδοσιν (antapodosin) which means “recompense). It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

       The Greek word rendered “receive” in 2nd Corinthians 5:10, “reward” in Ephesians 6:8 and “repaid” in Colossians 3:25 is κομίζω (komizó). Thayer’s Greek Lexicon shows the basic meaning of this word as “to receive, obtain, to get back, receive back, recover.” The word is used in Greek literature to show recompense for both good and bad behavior.

       Jesus said, “For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward (Greek: ποδίδωμι, [apodidómi]) each person according to what he has done" (Matthew 16:27). While this rewarding occurred at the time of Christ’s first century return, it is apparent from the other judgment passages we have reviewed that reward (or the lack thereof) is an ongoing dynamic associated with judgment after biological death.      

       It is instructive that that the Greek word rendered “reward” in Matthew 16:27 is ποδίδωμι (apodidómi) and has the basic meaning of “to put away by giving, to give up, give over.” Additional meanings are “to give away for one's own profit what is one's own, “to pay off, discharge,” “to give back, restore” and “to requite, recompense” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). This Greek word doesn't have an inherent meaning of reward for good behavior.

       When Jesus, in Matthew 16:27, speaks of rewarding each person according to what he has done, this doesn’t necessarily mean reward in the sense of being given good things as recompense for good behavior. The Greek ποδίδωμι (apodidómi) can also mean recompense for bad behavior.

       Paul uses ποδίδωμι (apodidómi) in this manner in Romans 2:5-6: “But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give (ποδίδωμι, apodidómi) to each person according to what he has done."

       This being said, the Greek word μισθός (misthos) is rendered “reward” some 29 times in the NT.  Thayer defines it as “dues paid for work; wages, hire.”  In the NT, this word can often be seen by context to mean recompense for good behavior.

       Luke 6:22-23: Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man's sake. Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward (μισθός, misthos) is great in heaven:

       Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward (μισθός, misthos) will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:35-36).  We also see in Luke Jesus speaking of being rewarded at the resurrection of the righteous.

       Luke 14:12-14: Then Jesus said to his host, "When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous."

       When Jesus was asked by the rich man what he could do to be perfect, Jesus told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor and he would have treasure in heaven.  Here again we see reward being given in the afterlife for things done while in the flesh.  Paul indicated the same thing to Timothy.

       Matthew 19:21: Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."

       1st Timothy 6:18-19: Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.  

       It is interesting that in Revelation 22:12 the writer uses both ἀποδίδωμι (apodidómi) and μισθός (misthos) to advise what will happen at the coming of Christ. This may suggest that Jesus brings with Him recompense for both good and bad behavior.

       Revelation 22:12: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward μισθός (misthos) is with me, and I will give ἀποδίδωμι (apodidómi) to everyone according to what he has done. 

       Below are some OT passages that speak of God giving to us according to our conduct. While the NIV uses the word “reward” in these passages, The Hebrew word from which this rendering is taken means “to give.” It is this rendering that is used in most English translations.  Rendering the Hebrew in this manner allows for the meaning to be that man is given what he deserves, which can be reward or punishment.   

       While these passages of Scripture do not explicitly speak of this occurring at the time of resurrection or in the afterlife as seen in the NT passages quoted above, they do show that God does give to us humans what we deserve commensurate with our conduct.

       Jeremiah 17:10: "I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward (to give) a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve"

       Jeremiah 32:19b: Your eyes are open to all the ways of men; you reward (give to) everyone according to his conduct and as his deeds deserve.

       In the following two passages, different Hebrew words are used which more closely align with the idea of being rewarded or recompensed for what we humans do.        

       Psalm 62:12: One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that you, O God, are strong, and that you, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done.

       Proverbs 24:12: Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?

       In addressing the Corinthian Christians, Paul strongly indicates that while their salvation was secured in Christ, their reward in the after life depended on their behavior while in the flesh.

       1st Corinthians 3:11-15 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” 

       This teaching by Paul is very instructive. It reveals that even if one screws up in life and doesn’t behave as righteously as desired by God, such person is still saved.  Our success or failure at living righteously does not determine our salvation. Salvation is guaranteed through the Christ event. Salvation is granted to us humans because of the grace and mercy of God, not because of anything we do or don’t do.    

       Romans 3:23-24: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

       Ephesians 2:4-5: But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved.

       Titus 2:11: For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.

       Salvation results from the grace and mercy of God.  There is, however, reward or lack thereof associated with salvation. Such reward or lack thereof will vary according to our works.  The judgment passages in Scripture indicate everyone will be resurrected and judged as to their conduct while they were in the flesh and be rewarded or not rewarded commensurate with what they did while in the flesh.

       Some believe that when Paul says that “in Christ all will be made alive” (1Corinthians 15:22), the wicked are resurrected to a temporal life in order to be judged and then annihilated.  This position is problematic in that it is tantamount to saying the wicked will ultimately be made dead in Christ. The whole force of the Gospel message is that Jesus has defeated death and brought immortality to light. Life reigns in Christ, not death.

       Humans being annihilated after resurrection to life would necessitate a resurrection to temporal life.  All indications are that resurrection to life is resurrection to eternal life. The granting of eternal life is based on the forgiveness of the eternal death penalty for sin. Scripture shows the sins of all humanity are forgiven due to God’s mercy expressed through the Christ event.  

       While salvation is seen as deliverance from the penalty of eternal death due to sin, salvation does not necessarily mean deliverance from all penalty or punishment for sin. The fact that all humans will be judged as to how they conducted themselves while in the flesh tells us that while the sacrifice of Christ delivers us humans from the penalty of eternal death, it doesn't deliver us from all consequences of our behavior while in the flesh. 

       Under the Old Covenant, the penalty for adultery and murder was death. King David committed adultery with Bathsheba and then arranged to have her husband Uriah killed. David should have been put to death for his behavior. However, Scripture shows that David deeply repented of his sin and wasn’t put to death.  God forgave David for his sinful behavior. However, there were consequences to be paid for David’s sinful behavior.

       2 Samuel 12:13-14: Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan replied, "The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. But because by doing this you have made the enemies of the LORD show utter contempt, the son born to you will die."

      The Christ event has delivered the entire human race from eternal death. However, in the afterlife, while there will be reward for the good things done while in the flesh, there may well be punishment for the bad things done while in the flesh. It appears reward and punishment will be commensurate with how we behaved while in the flesh. 

       This being said, I see no Scriptural reason to believe that any punishment administered in the afterlife will be eternal in nature. The whole concept of eternal conscious torment is rather ludicrous. Compared to eternity, our physical sojourn on this earth is less than a drop in a bucket. To postulate humans are to be punished for eternity (trillions upon trillions of years) for sins committed during this infinitesimally short physical life span is to postulate extreme injustice. This would be the most extreme example of the punishment not fitting the crime. This would virtually negate the Scriptural identification of God as a just and merciful God.

       We presently have 7.5 billion people living on planet earth. Multiple billions more have lived and died in the past. The great majority of humans who have lived and died did not come to know the salvation message. Of the 7.5 billion humans presently inhabiting planet earth, only a very small fraction of that number will come to understand the Gospel message and even less will embrace it.

       As of this writing, more than 3.2 billion people live in what is called the 10/40 window.  This is an area which lies across Africa and Asia from 10 degrees latitude north of the equator to 40 degrees latitude north of the equator. Missionary groups have determined that ninety-five percent of people living in the 10/40 Window have not heard the Gospel message and will probably go to their graves not having heard the Gospel message.  It should be evident that the vast majority of humans past, present and future live and die never learning about salvation through the Christ event.

       What is the status of the multiple billions of people who have lived and died never knowing the pathway to salvation? Are all these folk's dead forever?  Worse yet, are they consigned to a place of eternal torment because they didn't acknowledge Jesus as their Savior and in most cases didn’t have the opportunity to do so?   The Scriptures clearly teach that Jesus died for the sins of the world and that it is the will of God that all be saved.  It appears to be counterintuitive to conclude that the vast majority of humans who have ever lived and will live will have little or no opportunity for salvation.

       It should be evident from the Scriptures that the Christ event took place in order to facilitate salvation for all humans.  If only an infinitesimal number of humans are saved, it makes a virtual sham of the Gospel message.  The scope of salvation taught in Scripture virtually demands all humans are at least presented with the opportunity for salvation.

       From the beginning, God created humans with the ability to sin and He knew that sin they would.  God determined the penalty for sin is eternal death. God also facilitated a way out from under that penalty. From the beginning, God initiated a plan to have this death penalty removed and that plan was facilitated in and through Christ Jesus, the anointed Savior. 

       The Scriptures show all will be made alive in Christ. The Scriptures also show all will be judged according to what was done while in the flesh. This is not a judgment to determine the granting of eternal life.  Eternal life is a given for everyone because of the Christ event. Judgment appears to be for the purpose of determining placement in the eternal realm.  Let’s look at what Paul wrote about every knee bowing to Christ and what Isaiah wrote about every knee bowing to God.

       Philippians 2:9-11: Therefore God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow (Greek: κάμπτω (kamptó), in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess (Greek: ἐξομολογέω (exomologeó) that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (NIV).

       Romans 14:9, 10b-12: For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.  For we will all stand before God's judgment seat.  It is written: "`As surely as I live,' says the Lord, `every knee will bow (Greek: κάμπτω (kamptó), before me; every tongue will confess (Greek: ξομολογέω (exomologeó) to God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God (NIV). 

       Some believe that those who reject Christ and refuse to willingly submit to the Father will be forced to kneel before Christ and the Father just before being consigned to eternal punishing or, as some believe, annihilation. Is the kneeling before God and Christ a forced kneeling?  How could such a forced confession honor Jesus or be to the glory of God the Father? 

       It is much more in line with the Scriptures to conclude this will be a voluntary act on the part of all humanity who will have come to love the Father and the Son and embrace their offer of grace. To confess Jesus is Lord is to repent of sin and acknowledge faith in what He did to facilitate our salvation. It is to acknowledge and commit to God's way as being the only way to live.  More on this in Part Five of this series.      

       If indeed all of humanity will confess Jesus is Lord, it would follow that all of humanity is granted salvation.  The Greek word that is translated “bow” in 2:10 is κάμπτω (kamptó) and simply means "to bend or bow the knee." The word “should" is not in the Greek in this passage.  The NAS and NET translations have "every knee will bow" which is more in line with the simple meaning of "to bend or bow the knee." In Romans 14:11 the NIV inserts “will” in the translation of kamptó which coordinates well with the meaning of kamptó.

       The word “confess” in Philippians 2:11 and Romans 14:12 is ξομολογέω (exomologeó) and is defined in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon to mean professing freely, openly and joyfully. The Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich Greek Lexicon shows this word is used to express praise and honor. Strong's Lexicon defines it as "to acknowledge or (by implication, of assent) agree fully -- confess, profess, promise." It would appear that all humans will at some point make this confession and it will be a voluntary confession. 

         Isaiah 45:23-25:  By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. They will say of me, `In the LORD alone are righteousness and strength.'" All who have raged against him will come to him and be put to shame. But in the LORD all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exult. 

       Isaiah quotes God as saying all the descendants of Israel will be found righteous and will exalt God. Paul wrote that all Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26). Here are some additional Scriptures which speak to universal acknowledgement of God.

         Psalm 22:27-29:  All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations will bow down before him, for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations. All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him-- those who cannot keep themselves alive.

        Psalm 86:9: All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name.       

       Those who place faith in Christ in this physical life have already made the confession that Jesus is Lord.  However, the vast majority of humans who have lived and died and are living and dying have not and do not make that confession before death. The vast majority of humans who live and die don’t meet what are believed to be Scriptural requirements of repentance before God and faith in Christ as a condition of being granted salvation. 

      Yet Scripture teaches that every knee will bow before God. All humans will confess to God.  All humans will have to give an account of themselves to God.  When does this occur?  It certainly doesn’t occur for most humans during their physical sojourn on planet earth. This being the case, it would appear that it will be after biological death that this will occur. It would appear that it will occur at a time of judgment when all humans appear before the judgment seat of Christ. It would appear this is when humans who did not acknowledged God or did not have the opportunity to do so while in the flesh, will come to acknowledge God and acknowledge Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord.

       Romans 14:11-12: It is written: "`As surely as I live,' says the Lord, `every knee will bow before me; every tongue will confess to God.'" So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

       Matthew 22:30-32:  At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead--have you not read what God said to you, `I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not the God of the dead but of the living."

       Luke 20:37-38: But in the account of the bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord `the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.' He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive."

Overview:

       The Scriptures teach that all humans will face judgment as to things done while in the flesh.  All humans will give an account of themselves before God. This fact assumes an afterlife for all humans. It assumes a restoration to, or continuation of, life beyond biological death. Staying dead is not an option.

       As already discussed, Scripture teaches there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked (John 5:28-30, Acts 24:15, Daniel 12:2). Scripture teaches that all humans will be judged subsequent to physical death (Matthew 10:15, 11:22, 12:36, 12:41, Luke 11:31, Romans 14:10-12, 2nd Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 9:27). This requires that all humans who have biologically died in the past and will die in the future will be restored to life. Paul teaches that in Adam all die but in Christ all are made alive (1st Corinthians 15:22, Romans 5:18). 

       Since Christ was resurrected to eternal life, it would appear that to be made alive in Christ is to be given eternal life as is true of Christ.  Some believe that because certain Scriptures show some being resurrected to life and others being resurrected to judgement/ contempt (John 5:28-30, Daniel 12:2) means that some are given life while others, upon being judged, will be annihilated.

       However, being resurrected to judgement or contempt does not necessarily mean a termination of life. I must point out that both the righteous and the unrighteous are resurrected which means both are returned to life after having died. Since only a small number of the multiple billions of humans who have lived and died could by Biblical standards be considered righteous, are we to believe that the great majority of humans will be resurrected only to be judged as unfit for eternal life and be returned to death?  What purpose would be served to resurrect to life the unrighteous only to show them how evil they were and then consign them to eternal death.

        Many Scriptures we have reviewed point to it being the purpose of God to forgive the eternal death penalty for all humans which is to facilitate eternal life for all humans. Paul wrote to the Corinthians that God made us for the very purpose of having mortality replaced with life.

       2 Corinthians 5:4-5: For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.

       In looking at all the redemption passages and all the judgement passages in Scripture, it becomes apparent that redemption from the eternal death penalty is a given for all humans because of the Christ event. Therefore all humans will experience eternal life.  This being said, all humans (including the righteous) will be judged as to their conduct (their works) while in the flesh and be rewarded and punished accordingly. Humans will not be judged to determine whether they do or don't receive eternal life.  They will be judged as to their works.     

       Judgment after biological death appears to be for the sole purpose of determining reward or lack thereof for things done while in the flesh. The very fact we will be held accountable for our behavior while in the flesh should tell us there will be determinations made as to the consequences of our behavior while in the flesh. 

       While salvation is deliverance from the penalty of eternal death due to sin, salvation does not appear to mean deliverance from all penalty or punishment for sin. Salvation does not appear to be synonymous with deliverance from punishment.  Salvation has only to do with deliverance from eternal death. 

       The fact that all humans will be judged as to how they conducted themselves while in the flesh tells us there will be a determination made in the afterlife as to the consequences of our behavior.  Judgment is all about reward and/or punishment.  Judgment would have no apparent purpose if not to establish consequences for behavior, good or bad.

       Some will point to Scriptures that indicate God does not hold our sins against us and since this is the case, how can we be judged for the bad things (sinful things) we did while in the flesh? In speaking of the new covenant God would establish with Israel it is said that God would “forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more" (Hebrews 8:12) and "Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more" (Hebrews 10:17).

       In Romans 4 Paul quotes David in saying how blessed a man is in that God credits righteousness to man apart from works and covers the sins of man and will not count mans against him (Romans 4:6-8). In Psalm 103:12, David speaks of God removing transgressions “as far as the east is from the west.”

       Paul clearly taught that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2nd Corinthians 5:10). Since this is the case, it is apparent that when the Scriptures speak of God not remembering our sins, it is that God does not remember our sin in that He forgives the death penalty for sin. We appear righteous before God because of what Jesus did on our behalf. This allows us to appear before God as though we never sinned, thus facilitating reconciliation with God resulting in the granting of eternal life.   

       While it is apparent all humans are saved from the eternal death penalty for sin because of the mercy and grace of God expressed and facilitated through the Christ event, it is equally apparent all humans will be rewarded and/or punished proportionate to how they conducted themselves while in the flesh.

       This being the case, it may be misguided on the part of the Christian community to “get people saved.” It may be more appropriate to teach that we are saved because of God’s mercy and that because we are saved, God expects us to live righteously.

       2nd Corinthians 5:14-15: For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.  And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again. 

       Christ died for all so all could be delivered from the eternal death sin produces. Having the eternal death penalty removed comes with the expectation of living by the standards of righteous behavior outlined in Scripture.  Therefore, it may be more fitting to not have altar calls to be saved but to dedicate one's life to righteousness because we are saved. It may be more appropriate to teach that our place in the afterlife will be determined on the basis of how we conduct ourselves in this life.

       Paul wrote that God “has saved us and called us to a holy life--not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time” (2nd Timothy 1:9).

       Ephesians 2:8-10: For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God--not by works, so that no one can boast.   For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

       Here we clearly see that God has saved us not because of anything we do but because of His own purpose and grace.  However, our salvation comes with the expectation of living a holy life and doing good works. To the extent we do or fail to do good works will apparently be the extent to which we gain or lose reward in the judgment. 

       Since salvation is a free gift from God and is granted to us humans irrespective of what we do or don't do, why would it be deemed inconceivable that all humans are granted salvation?  The Scriptures clearly show that because of God’s love and mercy and the grace of His son Christ Jesus, we are provided deliverance from the eternal death penalty.  What Paul said in his letter to Timothy is very instructive.

       1 Timothy 1:12-16: I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners--of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.   

       It is evident that only a small number of the billions of people who have lived and died and are living and dying come to believe in Jesus during their physical sojourn on planet earth. Paul wrote that “Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief." Acting in ignorance and unbelief can be said for most of humanity.  The great majority of the multiple billions of people who have lived and died and are living and dying live in ignorance and unbelief as to the Christ event and its ramifications for the human race. Are all these folks just so much fodder to be cast aside never having opportunity to learn of or understand the way of salvation?

      Paul wrote that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:16). This would be a rather hollow statement if the saving of sinners was to be limited to a small percentage of the multiple billions of humans who have lived and died and are living and dying. Some believe that only those God has predestinated to be saved will receive salvation.  To conclude that God had His Son go through the torment and torture of the crucifixion to provide salvation only for those predestinated by God to receive salvation is a rather ludicrous perspective.

       In view of the Scriptures that speak of Jesus dying for the sins of the world and God in His mercy wanting all men to be saved, I find it inconceivable that most of the multiple billions of humans who have inhabited planet earth and are presently inhabiting planet earth will not be delivered from the eternal death penalty associated with sin. To conclude that the vast majority of humans who have lived and died and will live and die are denied forgiveness of the death penalty for sin and are either annihilated or suffer eternal punishment for sin is contrary to everything I see in Scripture as to the love, mercy and grace of God and the scope of salvation inherent in the sacrifice of Jesus.

       To conclude that Jesus went through what he went through to save just a small select few (comparatively speaking) of the multiple billions of people who have lived and died and are living and dying appears untenable when compared to what the Scriptures teach about salvation. While many believe salvation is limited to those who respond to the gospel message in this life or limited to those predestinated to be saved, the preponderance of Scriptural evidence is that Jesus died to secure the salvation of all humans and it will be all humans who ultimately will be saved.  

       In Part Three of this series we will look at objections to universal salvation.

PART THREE