So you are saved and believe that since you’ve confessed Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you are no longer bound for eternal punishment in hell like most people in this sin-sick world. After all, in some form or other, most of the organized church teaches that eternal torment awaits those who have not accepted Christ’s offer of redemption and forgiveness.
This may be what the church teaches, but is it really what the Bible espouses? I would like for you to honestly read and meditate on the following scripture and see if it synchronizes with the doctrine of eternal torment and separation from God.
…Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.
Romans 5: 18-19
Okay, now that you’ve had some time to digest what this passage of scripture is saying, you still may not truly believe what it says. Does this verse really say that all people will be justified and made righteous? In order to arrive at truth we have to let Spirit of God enlighten us and to study to show ourselves approved unto God. I have to trust God to do the former, but let’s do a word study to break these verses down into simple terms.
The word translated “all” in English is the Greek word πᾶς or pas. According to Strong’s Concordance, it means the following:
1) individually: each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything
2) collectively: some of all types
The word “people” is translated from the Greek word ἄνθρωπος or anthropos. The definition is as follows:
1) a human being, whether male or female
a) generically, to include all human individuals
b) to distinguish man from beings of a different order
2) indefinitely, someone, a man, one
3) in the plural, people
4) joined with other words, merchantman
Hopefully, from these definitions it can be understood that when Paul mentions “all people”, he is talking about the entire human race without exception. If you did not come to this understanding perhaps the phrase, “the many”, in verse 19 is what threw you a curve ball. In verse 15 of Romans five, Paul uses the exact same phrase. Let’s see what it says.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
The phrase, “the many” is just another way of saying all people. I do not know why the translators used a different phrase, but it means the same thing. In Romans 5, Paul discusses the original transgression of Adam and how his sin led to death for all people. I think it’s safe to assume that all Christians believe that men are born sinners because of the nature we inherited from the first man, Adam. Paul goes on to say that though sin entered the world through one man and all became sinners, Jesus’ righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. God’s grace is able to overcome the trespass or sin of Adam and extend and overflow to the many (i.e., all people)! He states the same thing with different language in the following verses.
…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
I Corinthians 15:22-23
The subject of these verse is all (as in people). Most Christians will agree that all men have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. But the rest of the passage implies that all are also freely justified and redeemed through Christ Jesus. If you believe that all die because of the curse from Adam’s sin, then according to this Holy Spirit-inspired statement from Paul, you should also believe that in Christ, the last Adam, all will be made alive. It is dishonest and twisting the scriptures to believe that we are all sinners because of Adam’s transgression, but that same all does not apply to redemption in Christ. The all is without exception as there is no other qualifying word used to narrow its definition. If all men received the death sentence and became sinners because of Adam’s disobedience, then all men will receive life and salvation through the obedience and sacrifice of Christ.
I know that this message may fly in the face of everything you believe to be true, but please bear with me, we are only scratching the surface. How many times have you read the referenced scriptures and still did not come up with these conclusions? Perhaps these verses caused you to question your beliefs, but not enough to embrace the fact that Jesus was sacrificed on the cross so that all of humanity would eventually be saved. We typically read the scriptures and understand them within the paradigm we’ve been taught. Because most of us have believed in the doctrine of limited salvation (salvation for a relative few) and eternal punishment, we read the scriptures with this line of thinking embedded in our minds. It is like wearing rose-colored glasses only to find out the world is multi-colored when the glasses are removed.
Okay, by now you may be thinking that I’m writing under the influence of some deceiving spirit. Believe me, I understand if you have doubts and find this teaching a little hard to swallow. I rejected the teaching of the salvation of all men on numerous occasions, but for some reason I kept coming back to it. There are many variants of this teaching and I do not adhere to any proposing that all roads lead to heaven and all religions are pathways to the same God. I believe this is heresy. Let me make one point clear. There is no other name under heaven by which men can be saved but through Jesus Christ. There is one door that all must come through and God says repeatedly throughout scripture this is exactly what will happen. If you don’t believe me, perhaps you will believe what is written.
It is written: “As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.”
Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Yes, all kings shall fall down before Him; All nations shall serve Him.
If you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness then what is your honest reaction to the above passages?
The word every is the same Greek word “pas” that was translated “all” in Romans 5:18-19. So, God is saying that at some point, everyone will bow in humility and all tongues will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. All kings of the earth will bow in obeisance to the King of Kings. Perhaps you think that this confession will be given grudgingly or under coercion or threat. But, does this sound like the loving God who’s Son asked that his own murderers be forgiven? Please don’t forget that no one can confess Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 12:3). This means that at some point all will be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Saul, one of the greatest enemies of the early church became one of its greatest friends in the twinkling of an eye. When Jesus revealed himself to Saul while on the road to Damascus, he ended up bowing and confessing Jesus as Lord. As Saul, he was one of the greatest persecutors of Christ and his church; as Paul, he became its greatest protector and apostle. As Saul, he was openly hostile and even violent to Christ and his disciples; as Paul, he was one of Christ’s greatest messengers and friends to the church. You see, God does not have to force or threaten anyone into bowing before him or confessing his Lordship. All he has to do is show an individual his goodness; this is what leads to repentance. He is an expert in making his enemies and doubters his friends. There is not a person on the face of the earth that can (or would want to) resist Him if He so chooses to reveal himself and his great love. The issue is that he has not done this for everyone — yet. The heart of kings lie in the hand of the Lord and he can turn them wherever he wishes (Prov. 21:1). Nothing is too hard for God!
The Traditions of Men
Because the traditions of men have rendered the word of God meaningless, people have neglected the use of reason and logic when studying the scriptures. The sheep of God’s pasture are so brain washed by the teachings of men, they can no longer understand the plain meaning of the words staring them right in the face. Jesus often taught using parables to hide the truth of his teachings from those who were disingenuous in following him. But most of the scriptures examined thus far have been written plainly for all to understand. Instead of embracing the evident language used in these passages, our warped minds rationalize them away, thinking they must mean something other than the obvious. The church’s traditions have rendered these transparent teachings meaningless and seemingly absurd. The devil has done a great job of hiding truth in plain site!
The gospel, as Christianity has taught for more than 1,000 years, is more like an omen than a blessing. To come to understand that your loved ones who do not get “saved” will burn in hell forever is a sobering, grievous, heart- rendering torment. It breeds fear, worry, callousness, and pride. If you are inclined to Calvinist teachings you may be puffed up with pride believing you’re part of the elect company that God chose to have mercy on. If you have Arminian leanings than you may think that salvation is something you must secure by exercising your free will. It is because most of contemporary Christian teaching is based on one of these two philosophies that most Christians have missed the point of God’s plan from the beginning.
This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
I Timothy 2:3-4
The KJV translates verse 4 more accurately stating, “who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.
The phrase “will have” comes from the Greek word θέλω or thelō. It simply means to will or to purpose. When God is said to “will” something, it comes to pass without exception. It is also translated as “desire.”
The phrase is also used as a matter of fact in the following passage from Paul informing his protégé Timothy what to expect by following Christ.
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
II Timothy 3:12
At some point, all faithful Christians will experience some level of persecution from those outside the faith and at times, from those within the faith. This is a statement of fact just as the statement that God wants or wills all people to be saved and come to know the truth. As far as scripture goes, these two statements are not up for debate, they are statements of certainty.
The Sovereign God
There is nothing or no one that can thwart the will of God. He is completely sovereign, though he does allow man limited free will. He told the prophet Isaiah,
The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen. For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him? His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?
God’s purposes will always prevail and his purposes are always good. God is not in a battle with Satan for the possession of souls as he clearly states, “Behold, all souls are mine…” (Ezekiel 18:4). Do we believe in a God who is all-powerful and able to see His purposes through to completion, or a God who is limited by the decisions of man and cannot save some because they chose to reject him?
Christianity has gotten way off course. Many have mistakenly come to believe that they have chosen God and salvation. We have forgotten that we love him only because he first loved us. It is God who initiates and completes the process from beginning to end. He gives a person the faith to believe, the desire to repent, the power to overcome, the will to persevere, and the life to come forth. Of course we have our part to play as we must actively use all that God has given us. But we initiate nothing, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!
Many are ignorant of the fact that no one can come to God unless he is called. The simple truth is that He will not call everyone in the age we are living in. This is the meaning of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 15:23 “Christ, the first fruits, and then those in their own order…” There are mysteries revealed in scripture that many Christians have yet to discover. One of those mysteries is that there are ages to come beyond the one in which we currently live. (See Ephesians 2:7; Ephesians 3:5,9; I Corinthians 2:7, Colossians 1:26). Many have been called in this age, but few have been chosen to be first fruits unto God.
Jesus is the first born from the dead (with “many” or “all” to follow). He is the only one to have received resurrection from the dead. Others have been revived temporarily, such as Lazarus, but only to die again at some point. The first fruits are those who are prepared when he comes to bring the kingdom of God to the earth and will reign and rule with him for the Millenial period. They are the synonymous with the overcomers mentioned in Revelation. All others will receive their resurrection at a later time that will be examined in future articles.
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. I Timothy 2:5-6
Paul tells Timothy that Jesus is the only mediator between God and man and that he gave his life as a ransom for all of humanity. It does not say for all Jews, all Gentiles, all born-again, all Baptists, all Pentecostals, or even all saints. It says ALL — period! It is obvious that neither Paul or Timothy witnessed the salvation of everyone in their day and it is obvious that this has not happened in our day either. But, Paul says that this truth will be made manifest to all in due time. There is an appointed time for everyone to experience this truth. Some will experience it sooner than others, but all will eventually be saved so that in all things he may have the preeminence.
In the next installment, we will examine how the Bible uses terms like hell, lake of fire, eternal, and forever so that we can come to understand the true meaning of God’s redemptive and corrective judgments.