WILL GOD SAVE ALL, OR ONLY SOME?
“Faithful is the saying and worthy of all acceptation. For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe. These things command and teach”
(1 Tim.4:9-11, R.V.).
Think of it–the living God is the Saviour of all men! Not the “preserver” of all, as some would have us believe. The Greek word used here is sõtêr. It occurs twenty-four times in the New Testament and is correctly translated “Saviour” every time. See Luke 1:47; 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Ephesians 5:23; Philippians 3:20; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; 2 Timothy 1:10; Titus 1:3,4; 2:10, 13; 3:4,6; 2 Peter 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1 John 4:14; Jude 25.
Nor does the text say, God is the “provider” of salvation for all. This would not make Him the Saviour of all. He is only the Saviour of those He actually saves. In order to be the Saviour of all, He will save all. THE LIVING GOD IS THE SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN. Such a fact should fill the hardest heart with joy and cause continual thanksgiving to God for His power, wisdom, love, grace and righteousness.
Knowing how difficult it would be for man to believe this plain statement, God offers man encouragement by assuring him that it is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. It is faithful to God, faithful to His Son, faithful to His Word, and faithful to the desire of all who have had the love of God poured into their hearts by the Holy Spirit. It is hard to understand why so many should condemn it as unfaithful and worthy of all rejection, when God has so plainly declared it to be a faithful saying worthy of all acceptation.
Man's need for salvation is desperate. He is sinful, dying and helpless to save himself (Rom.1:18-3:25). To save man and make out of him a creature unto his own praise will indeed glorify God and His Son, Jesus christ.
I. HOW WILL GOD SAVE ALL MANKIND?
Both the means and the manner whereby this Salvation is accomplished are clearly revealed in the Scriptures. “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. For there is one God, and one mediator of God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim.2:3-6, AV.). “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we MUST be saved” (Acts 4:12).
There is no salvation for anyone at any time except through Jesus Christ and His saving work. It is only through His death, burial, and resurrection life that all will be saved. There will be no failure here. He was manifested to put away sin and to destroy the works of the Devil (Heb.9:26; 1 Jn.3:8). He will not stop until He has accomplished these ends.
In the light of the facts set forth in the scriptures, how foolish the statement that if all are to be saved Jesus Christ need never have died. If He had not died for the sins of the world, no one could be saved. But since He has died and now lives again ALL will BE SAVED.
II. WHEN WILL GOD SAVE ALL?
The Scriptures make it very plain that all are not saved at the same time. “Who gave Himself a ransom for all: the testimony in its own times” (1 Tim.2:6, R.V.) “As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But each man in his own order” (1 Cor.15:22-24).
At the present time God is saving only those He has chosen and called unto the special salvation of the ages (1 Cor.1:26-30; 1 Tim.6:12). He will use these various ways in bringing about the salvation of the rest (Eph.3:8-12; 2:6-10). Note, please, the text says, “God is the Saviour of all men SPECIALLY (not, EXCLUSIVELY) of them that believe.” Because of this the Apostle Paul wrote, “Therefore I endure all things for the ELECT'S sake, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory” (literally, 'eonian' or 'age lasting' glory, 2 Tim.2:10). And again he wrote, “But we preach Christ crucified, unto Jews a stumbling-block, and unto Gentiles foolishness; but unto them that ARE CALLED, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”
Election and predestination become most precious portions of God's truth once it is seen that the reason some are elected to a special salvation is that through them the rest may be reached. There is a special salvation for some and a general salvation for the rest later on. Those who believe now will be made like Christ when He returns and will live and reign with Him during the coming eons or ages. They will be delivered from the Second Death.
The non-elect will be saved at the end of the ages solely as the result of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ in their behalf. Does this mean a second chance? By no means! Salvation is not a matter of chance, first or second. Had it been left to chance no one would have been saved, now or later (Rom.3:10-12); 1:28-32). Salvation is of God! He assures us that He will save all.
Let no one think for a moment that there will not be judgment and condemnation. “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men” (Rom.1:18). Those who are hard and impenitent of heart treasure up for themselves wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God Who will render to every man ACCORDING TO HIS WORKS. To them that are factious and obey not the truth but obey unrighteousness shall be wrath, indignation, tribulation and anguish. See Rom.2:1-16; Rev.20:11-15; etc. All that the Scriptures ACTUALLY teach about the wrath of God will surely come to pass. The wrath of God is an awful thing and it is not our purpose to minimize it in the least. However too much condemnation and punishment is just as unrighteous as too little.
III. WHAT DOES THIS SALVATION INCLUDE?
- The Justification and Making Righteous of All.“So then as through one trespass the judgment came unto all men to condemnation; even so through one act of righteousness the free gift came unto all men to justification of life. For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One shall the many be made righteous” (Rom.5:18,19).
- The Reconciliation of All to God.“For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in Him should all the fulness dwell; and through him to reconcile all things unto Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things upon the earth, or things in the heavens” (Col.1:19,20).
Reconciliation means the removal of all alienation and enmity, thus making peace.
- The Vivification of All.
- The Subjection of All to God the Father. “For, He puts all things in subjection under His feet. But when he saith, all things are put in subjection, it is evident that He is excepted [none others] Who did subject all things unto him. And when all things have been subjected to Him that did subject all things unto Him, that GOD MAY BE ALL IN ALL” (1 Cor.15:27,28; Phil.2:9-11; Eph. 1:9-11, 19-23).
The making alive in this passage is more than resurrection alone. It is a making alive beyond the power and reach of death as will be seen from the experience of Christ the FIRSTFRUITS, and those who are Christ's at His coming. Resurrection may be only to mortality as in the case of Lazarus, etc. Making alive here is unto incorruption and immortality (1 Tim.6:13-16; 1 Cor.15:50-57).
But someone protests, Will not believing that God is the Saviour of all mankind do away with evangelistic fervor and zeal? It did not affect the Apostle Paul in this manner. On the contrary it increased his fervor and zeal. “For to this end we labor and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, Who is the Saviour of all men” (1Tim.4:10; see also 2 Cor.5:13-21). We must ever distinguish between the fact of the salvation of all and the manner in which God brings it to pass. He condescends to work through human instrumentality (Rom.10;11-15; 1 Cor.1:21). Genuine believers will live and work unto this end continually. It is invigorating to know that complete success is assured ultimately.
Again someone may say, Yes, it does seem to be true but it is a dangerous doctrine and should not be taught. God says, “THESE THINGS COMMAND AND TEACH.” Shall we obey God or man? Shall we seek God's pleasure or man's? Those who seek to please man are not slaves of Jesus Christ (Gal.1:10). Shall we who know Him and have had our eyes opened to the glorious triumph of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ sit idly by and let reproach be heaped upon His name without protesting? Think how the teaching of endless punishment slanders God and Jesus Christ, for we know Christ died for all. Does God lack the goodness, the power, the love, the grace to save all? Every attribute of God is slandered by the unscriptural teaching of eternal punishment. God says punishment is age-lasting, man says everlasting. Let us believe God and not man.