God Will Have All Men Be Saved
by J. Preston Eby
On this earth there are more than four and a half billion people! The most populous lands are China, India, and other parts of Asia, and in spite of missionaries from the West, actually more than half of all people on the earth have never so much as heard the only name by which men may be saved- the name of JESUS CHRIST! For your Bible says: "there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). This means that billions of people here on this earth have lived, and died, without having known anything about God's provision of salvation - without saving knowledge - neither having heard the only name by which men may be saved! Now think what that means. If all unsaved are eternally lost, then more than HALF the people who have ever lived on this earth have been consigned to eternal hell without ever having been given so much as a chance to escape it!
What about the millions of people living now in Communist Russia and Red China where the Gospel is suppressed? Those people did not choose to be born into these godless nations. Are they lost forever because they never heard the true message of God's love in Christ? Is this their only day of salvation? Are they eternally doomed when they die? Will a just God and Saviour condemn to eternal damnation those people who died before the true Gospel was ever brought to them? Is God about to "shut the door" of mercy in their face?
We hear much today about evangelizing and saving the world in one generation. The preachers tell us this mission must be accomplished before Christ can return, and it must be done in this generation. We hear of glorious revival at home and abroad, of fresh missionary efforts in various directions, of great Crusades attended by tens and sometimes hundreds of thousands, of radio and television beamed by satellite to all the nations of earth, and of large sums being devoted to these endeavors: and we get the idea that adequate efforts are being made for the evangelization of the nations of the earth. It is estimated today that the world's population is over four and a half billion, and it is a fact that considerably more than one-half - nearly two-thirds - are still TOTALLY HEATHEN, and the remainder are mostly either followers of Mohammed or members of those great apostate Churches whose religion is practically a Christianized idolatry, and who can scarcely be said to hold or teach the Gospel of Christ.
And what about the multiplied billions who have gone before and never had any contact with the living Christ? Even if all the people of this one generation could be saved, it would be only a infinitesimal fraction of the people who have ever lived, and there would be no victory for God, for the devil would still possess the vast majority of mankind. It is estimated that about one hundred and sixty billions of human beings have lived on the earth in the six thousand years since Adam's creation. Of these, the very broadest estimate that could be made with reason would be that less than three billion were truly saints of God. This broad estimate would leave the immense aggregate of one hundred and fifty seven billions (157,000,000,000) who went to their graves without faith and hope in the only name given under heaven or among men whereby we must be saved. Indeed, the vast majority of these never knew or heard the name of Jesus, and could not believe in Him of whom they had not heard.
What, I ask, has become of this vast multitude, of which figures give a wholly inadequate idea? What is, and is to be, their condition? Did God make no provision for these, whose condition and circumstances He must have foreseen? Or did He, from the foundation of the world, make a wretched and merciless provision for their hopeless, eternal torment, as many of His children claim? Can you really believe that is the plan by which the all-wise, all-merciful, loving God is working out His purpose here on earth? WHAT IS THE TRUTH?
Paul, in I Tim. 2:1-6, gives the answer! "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for ALL MEN ... for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 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." This text is one of rare beauty. It is indeed like a precious diamond, the effulgence of whose radiance dazzles the mind. It is a drop of pure distilled essence, whose fragrance fills the rooms of the heart. It is a joy forevermore and a challenge to everyone who reads it with an understanding heart. It should be engraved upon the heart of every saint of God. There is so much depth to that text that I am afraid that we often do not even perceive it. It is like a beautiful sky of deep rich blue and one cannot even begin to grasp the vast depth above us. So it is with this passage!
The few laws that Scripture contains are rays of light revealing only small portions of God's will, much as the words I write are parts of the thought I wish to express. He who would know the complete will of God must look for the larger concept, discover the real objective. One main objective is given us in our text for this study: "I exhort therefore, that ... supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for ALL MEN ... for ... God our Saviour ... will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." The will of God is so far beyond our usual thoughts that we simply cannot understand it unless the Spirit enlightens us. The eternal God WILL have all men to be saved! We need to ask God to fill our minds with this great truth, by the Holy Spirit.
The light of God and His power always go hand in hand. If I try to understand the will of God with my limited and darkened mind, I have only my limited and feeble strength with which to participate in it. But when I wait upon God so that through the Holy Spirit His will shines within me like a heavenly light and I am "filled with all knowledge and spiritual understanding," the Spirit will with the light also give power. Note well, the most complete knowledge of God's will, if it is acquired only by the natural mind, fails to give me the strength to see it fulfilled. On the other hand, every revelation concerning God's will that comes to me through the Holy Spirit strengthens me with heavenly power. So I must fervently pray, "Lord, help me to understand how earnestly God WILLS THE SALVATION OF ALL MEN!" May everyone who sincerely prays, "Your will be done!" receive into his own heart this wonderful and loving will of God. Let us not deceive ourselves into thinking that the will of God in salvation is just for a "little flock" that is to be saved and evacuated off to heaven. His will is far more glorious than that! It is the very nature of God, the revelation of His divine perfection, the expression of His limitless and unfailing love. How foolish even to think of doing His will unless I have something of this great love in my heart! Therefore, we must open our hearts and allow the love of God for all men to be poured in by the Holy Spirit.
When we think of and seek the will of God we should not limit ourselves to concern about our individual lives and needs, but rather learn His will for all men and use this as a guideline for our behavior and feelings toward them. Reread I Tim. 2:1-4 and note what we are taught - He wills "all men to be saved." He wills "that all men should come to the knowledge of the truth." What effect should this will of God have on us? And how must we become participators with Him in the fulfilling of His will?
First, accept what His Word teaches; believe in His love; and leave it to God to someday fulfill all that He means. Your task is to prayerfully accept God's will and to receive it into your heart. Believe what is written: God wills that all men be saved. Let faith in those beautiful words take possession of your heart; allow God's will to become your will and inspire your life. If we accept this will of God, taking it into our hearts and making it truly ours, how will our lives be affected? The first result will be just what Paul commands--prayers and intercessions for all men. We will learn to see each man in the proper light, not the light of who he is, what he does, or what he deserves, but in the light of God's love and God's will for him. If God so loved miserable and unworthy creatures and so desired to help them that He sent His Son to die for them, and if our will is one with His, we will be inspired to love them and pray earnestly for them.
I have met a few people who argued that when Paul states that "God will have all men to be saved" he means that God wishes or would like for all men to be saved--and these folk are always quite certain that what God wishes or would like to be really stands very little chance of ever being fulfilled. How foolish! Oh, that God's will for the salvation of all men might be found in each one of us! The glory of God is nothing less than this: His unfathomable love for all who are lost and miserable, His will that they should be saved. When will Christians learn that this is their glory, their likeness to God, to allow themselves to be filled with the loving will of God, to let it possess them, devour them? Obedience to all the individual commandments of God, which are expressions of His will, is merely a first step on the path to this higher oneness with the will of God that purposes to bless and save and lift the whole creation!
In December, 1981, I sent out an article in which I set forth the wonderful truth of the ultimate salvation of all men. Soon thereafter I received a letter from some precious folk who were deeply distressed by this teaching. They raised several objections, the first of which was stated thus: If we believe the way you are teaching, it will mean we no longer need to pray for the salvation of our loved ones as they will be saved in the end regardless of their standing. On top of that, all our past prayers have been in vain as the Lord will save them in the end anyhow . On the surface that may seem to be a plausible argument; but what makes such faulty reasoning so pathetic and tragic is that it openly contradicts the Word of God! Let me quote again what the Lord says about this in I Tim. 2:1-6: "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men... 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. 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 (proven, demonstrated, fulfilled) IN DUE TIME."
You will note that the command to pray for all men is rooted in the fact that God will have all men to be saved. 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. Since God purposes to save all men, He has a plan, a process, and an instrumentality by which to accomplish this! Part of the process is the intercessory prayers of the saints. The men who are to be saved are held under the power of the devil. The saints are called as God's instrument of salvation, on behalf of lost men they engage in spiritual warfare, claiming these men for God, binding the enemy who enslaves them, bringing deliverance to the captives. That all men be saved is God's purpose. Intercessory prayer is part of the process. To say that since God will save all men we need not pray for them, is to say that God has a purpose to save them, but no means by which to accomplish it. That would be like saying that a contractor is going to build a skyscraper and, since he is going to build it, there is no need for nails, hammers, saws, heavy equipment, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, etc. How ridiculous! All those things are the necessary instruments and means of accomplishing his will and plans!
The prayers of the saints! Prayer is not a useless exercise, it is part of God's cosmic purpose. I don't pretend to understand it, but when Jesus was going away He said, "Up until now you have asked nothing in My name, from now on you will ask the Father in My name, and whatever you ask the Father I will do it."
Ah, we have missed the importance of prayer in the redemptive and reconstructive and restorational purposes of God! Our prayers ARE important! Don't ask me to explain the mystery of the apparatus, but they are important. You'll find yourself praying, you'll find yourself desiring to pray, and that's the Holy Spirit urging you to do what is necessary to enable things to happen the way they are supposed to happen. There is a relationship between the decrees of God and the response of God's people! God created all things by a Word. God SAID, "Let there be ... and it was so." That's a CREATIVE WORD! Prayer is a participation in the creative Word of God, speaking the new creation into existence. It's a mystery I don't fully understand, but there are times when I have to pray, there are times when the altar of my soul is full of clouds of holy incense as I send up to God petitions, as I decree a Word, not for myself, but for others, and when I can't articulate them in English I send them up in an unknown tongue. And there is that deep inner consciousness that somehow I am participating in a great tableau and drama of history.
Through many years the spirit of intercessory prayer has stirred within my spirit and I have been compelled to pray for some of the most wicked, unbelieving, and treacherous men and women upon the face of God's earth. I speak not of an occasional weak, insipid little table prayer, but of deep travail and intense spiritual warfare on behalf of the souls of these individuals. Among those for whom I have been moved to intercede have been world leaders such as Golda Meir, Nikita Khrushechev, Leonid Brezhnev, and Fidel Castro. Must I now believe that my prayers shall never be answered, and that the Omniscient and omnipotent Holy Spirit who wrought so mightily in these supplications, failed?
My heart is emboldened by the testimony of that great man of God, George Muller. George Muller was literally the "man God made," and whom God used to house, feed, clothe, educate and save thousands of orphans in England. The key to George Muller's triumphs of faith is to be found in the fact that George in his youth opened all avenues of his being to the divine infilling. Henceforth he was a man who lived with eternity in view. He looked, after the shadow of God's glory rested upon him, beyond time and limitation and saw God. From that time forward he was never again to ask man for body or soul needs. He realized that God alone was able, and in that realization the puny supplies of man dwarfed beside the reservoirs of God's grace which he tapped by faith. He learned the secret of getting things from God, the simple expedient of boldly coming to the throne to receive. He practiced this daily for seventy-three years, and in coming he never found the throne vacant nor the supplies exhausted. He learned not to bind God by the limits of his own faith. He asked, knowing that God, Who heard, was able.
Muller has been called "the apostle of faith." When there was a vision to be fulfilled never once did he announce his plans in advance, nor even once did he appeal to men for help. He shut himself up in solitude and prayed to his Father Who saw and heard in secret. George Muller's faith was grandly rewarded, for God furnished in response to his prayers approximately seven and a half million dollars. From a most insignificant beginning the work grew until it became the leading supporter of missions, distributor of Bibles and religious literature, as well as the outstanding "father of the orphans."
When George Muller arrived at the twilight of his life, God, he estimated, had answered over fifty thousand of his prayers, many thousands of which were answered on the day he made them and often before he arose from his knees. Some of his petitions, however, lingered across the decades. Here is a sample of such asking:
"In November, 1844, 1 began to pray for the conversion of five individuals. I prayed every day without a single intermission, whether sick or in health, on the land or on the sea, and whatever the pressure of my engagements might be. Eighteen months elapsed before the first of the five was converted. I thanked God and prayed on for the others. Five years elapsed, and then the second was converted. I thanked God for the second, and prayed on for the other three. Day by day I continued to pray for them, and six years passed before the third was converted. I thanked God for the three, and went on praying for the other two. These two remain unconverted.The man to whom God in the riches of His grace has given tens of thousands of answers to prayer in the self-same hour of the day in which they were offered has been praying day by day for nearly thirty-six years for the conversion of these individuals, and yet they remain unconverted. But I hope in God, I pray on, and look yet for the answer. They are not converted yet, but they will be . "
This was the faith that carried him through every straitened place. He met emergencies by asking and in due time God supplied whatever the need might be. Those prayers? you ask. In 1897, those two men, sons of a friend of Mr. Muller's youth, were not converted, after he had entreated God on their behalf for fifty-two years daily. But after his death God brought them into the fold ! Such was this man's triumphant faith, whatever the difficulty.
And I would add, would God that he might have prayed for the salvation of ALL MEN! He prayed for five - and they were all saved. Praise God for that! But we are commanded to pray, supplicate, intercede, and give thanks for all men..."for God will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth." "Whatsoever you ask in My name, I will do it." What awesome power! Ah, we know it works for needs, money, jobs, healing, problems, -carnal things. But does it work for the souls of men? Dare we ask for the salvation of men with the same confidence that God will grant our request as when we ask for a new pair of shoes? The Holy Spirit answers, "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for ALL MEN ... for this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED... "
Those foolish people who in their willful and petulant ignorance dare to say, "If God is going to save everyone, why need I bother?" really do not deserve either recognition or an answer. Since my eyes have caught a vision of the supernal glory of the will of God to save all men, and my ears have heard the Word of the Spirit saying, "I exhort therefore, that first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, " my heart responds with the greatest eagerness, for the greatness of His infinite love and purpose for every man who has ever lived, sets aflame the love of God in my heart until every breath I breathe is a fervent prayer, "Your will be done! Your will be done!"
This is the hope that consumes my life and all my waking hours, and beside it all else is the grossest and lowest vanity. Stir yourself in repentance and in prayer and in consecration, you carnal minded, blessing-seeking souls who think you shall enjoy the glories of heaven while billions for whom the Christ died writhe in the tormenting flames of hell, possessed by the devil forever. How narrow our prayers sometimes can be. We pray so often for ourselves: me and my wife, my son John, we three, no more. How broad our intercession should be! When we come before the throne of the God whose Kingdom we represent, there must be a catholicity, a universality, about our prayers. And to any who still think our prayers are wasted if God will save all men in the end anyway, I now say - In my mind there could be nothing so frustrating, vain, meaningless, vexing, and futile as to be given a ministry of intercessory prayer on behalf of God's creation knowing that for the most part my time, effort, energy, and ministry would end in failure as most of those I pray for will never be saved anyhow! To be commanded to pray for all men, intercede for all men, when only a few, a mere handful would ever be affected by that prayer could represent either utter foolishness or absolute impotence on God's part, for the devil would win out in the end anyway (em. web ed.), possessing for ever the souls of those on behalf of whom we had done battle! Ah, dear ones, the salvation of all men in no measure diminishes our responsibility to the lost; it increases it a hundred and sixty billion fold! Previously I felt responsible to pray for the few I hoped could be rescued through my effort in God; now I am responsible to pray and pray and pray, and battle and battle and battle for the souls of all men until the battle is won and the enemy has not even one left! It is those who believe most men will be eternally lost who should give up their praying - not we, who have the assurance that our prayers actually CAN and WILL be answered!
With what new and wonderful significance does the proclamation of Jesus Christ now echo through the corridors of our spirits as we hear the impelling words sound from His lips, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me " (Jn. 12:32). This speaks not of Christ being lifted up in our daily living, or in praise, or by preaching, but upon the cross of Calvary, dying for the sins of the world. The verse following the one quoted above makes this very clear: "And this He said, signifying what death He should die." Again, "... as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up" (Jn. 3:14).
Whenever there is introduced into any revelation this "I will" of God, then you immediately erase the will of man, the self-efforts of man to fulfill His will, and are brought face to face with the sovereignty of the grace of God. In the face of the sovereignty of God's purpose all of man's hostility toward or unbelief regarding what God says He will do is as nothing, for whenever God decrees "I will do it," all of man's unbelief cannot deter the sovereign operation of His grace.
Man has the tremendous powers of will. Man can say "I will," and he can say "I will not"; and when a man says "I will not," to God, he will go down as swift as an arrow to its mark, swift as a stone into the depths of the sea; he will sink to the deepest depths; he will be cast down to endure the judgment of fire and brimstone until his breaking comes. Learn this, O man, and you will know a great truth: man's will is subject to God's will! The will of God is always the higher will. In the will of God lies the origin of all creation - its very existence, its joys, its power, its glory. In the will of God lies the origin of redemption - the fact of it, its power, its glory. In the will of God alone lies the origin of the grace of God in the life of each of His children - its being, its power, its blessedness, its glory.
The Lord Jesus Christ became man in order to do the will of God, and also to teach us what is God's will, and how to do it. On one occasion we read, "And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped Him, saying, Lord, if You will , You can make me clean. And Jesus put forth His hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed" (Mat. 8:2-3).
I desire to impress upon your mind and heart, dear reader, these words, the words of Jesus: "I will." The most important of all things is first to know God's will, and secondly, to do the will of God. I would call your attention to the prayer of the leper. That is a prayer which neither you nor any Christian should ever offer. It is a wicked prayer for you to offer. It is a prayer that will be fruitless. The leper said, "Lord, if You will, You can make me clean." That leper was ignorant. In his case there was this excuse for him: that the Lord Jesus Christ was only unfolding His mission, and that He had not fully revealed God's will. Ignorance of the Lord's will was the one thing which stood in his way of getting the healing. He saw that Christ was able. He said, "You can make me clean." But he was in doubt as to whether Christ was willing. Therefore he said, "Lord, if You will." The Lord said, "I will," and the moment He said that, there was no more "If You will" in that man's heart.
Let me illustrate. Supposing now that you and I are talking together on the telephone, and after some remarks you say to me, "Bro. Eby, may I see you this morning?" You know many precious folk want to come by and see us, about the same time sometimes, and sometimes would like to stay and visit for a few hours, or days, and sometimes they cannot do it, because I am a very busy man, and have an immense number of things to do. The work load is such that I must spend a full fifty to sixty hours in my office each week with correspondence, study, writing, and attending to many matters; then often travel out on weekends in ministry among various groups of the Lord's people. Generally, when we have visitors, or when I go away for a few days of meetings, I must then work overtime the same number of hours in order to keep up with those things the Lord has entrusted into my hands here. Many people do not understand this. But you have said to me: "May I see you this morning?" and I say: "Yes, if you will come to my house I will see you at eleven o'clock today." Well, now, suppose you come to my house at eleven o'clock. Suppose you ring the bell at the front door, and you say to my wife, "Bro. Eby told me that if I came he would see me at eleven o'clock." "All right," she says, pointing, "there is the office door; knock there." Suppose you come back down the walk near to my door, and you lie down on the walk-way, and begin to howl like this: "Oh! Bro. Eby, if you will, if you will, you can see me in your room. Oh! Bro. Eby! if you will." Well, I wonder who is making all that noise, and open another door into the house, and my wife comes, and I say, "Honey, who is out there making that noise?" "Oh, it is a person you told to come and see you this morning, and I told him to knock at your door." "And what did he say?" "The person said to me, 'Oh, it is so good of Bro. Eby to invite me to come. Oh, I wish he was willing. Oh, if I only knew he was willing.' I said, Did Bro. Eby not tell you he was willing? 'Yes, and I wish I could believe it........ Oh, Bro. Eby, if you will, if you will," and you keep on howling like that, and I say, "Honey, go tell the person I am willing to see him. Bring him right in." You come up closer and begin howling again, "Oh, Bro. Eby, if you will." "Honey, tell that person to come in at once." "He won't come in, Dear." "Why?" "He says it is too good to be true; he won't come in unless you go out." So I go out and say, "My dear friend, I told you to come to my house at eleven o'clock, and I am willing to see you." "Oh, Bro. Eby, I wish I could believe it were true. Oh, if you will, if you will."
Now, would that not be great nonsense? But that is the way people talk to God and about God. Jesus said to the leper, "I will - be clean." And straightway his leprosy was cleansed. In this case the leper said, "Lord, if You will." And Jesus answered, "I will." But in Jn. 12:32 no man is inquiring concerning the will of God. The omnipotent and sovereign Lord and Redeemer of heaven and earth issues the wonderful and certain fiat: "I W-I-L-L DRAW A-L-L M-E-N UNTO ME!" When the Lord Jesus Christ says "I will," no man on earth has any right to even question whether or not He will. It is a wicked blasphemy to say that He will not do what He has said He will do. The WILL OF GOD is that all men be saved. And yet I hear many Christians, and some who profess to be walking in sonship, impiously saying, "I do not believe that God will save all men." To which I say, It doesn't make any difference what YOU believe, your unbelief does not make the power of God of none effect.
Jesus says, "I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me!" "It does not mean that," they argue, "it means He will draw all of the elect, or He will draw all men who believe, or He will draw all kinds of men." "But how many does it say He will draw?" "All men." To which I answer, "If that proclamation is not true, if He is not strong enough, and purposeful enough, and loving enough to draw every spirit on earth and in hell, and throughout the universe, to Himself, then He has told a lie. If He can, but won't, then He is a mean, hard, vindictive, sadistic tyrant. And if He can't, then He's not God" "Oh, Bro. Eby!" they cry, "that is heresy!" "But," I say, "that is Jesus. Was He a heretic?" "Oh, no; you do not understand, we can explain all that away, and you must not talk like that." But they explain and I still don't understand!
Has the first Adam more power than the second? ALL were made partakers of the sinful nature through the fall of one man (Rom. 5:12; I Cor. 15:21-22). Adam had power to take the whole human family down with him; even without their consent. If he being of the earth, earthy, could do this, how much more power will the second Adam show in lifting all again, through His death and resurrection! Jesus said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." He did not say He would draw them if they decided to come, or He would draw them, and they could come if they chose; but if He was lifted up (which He was), "I WILL DRAW ALL UNTO ME." It is not a partial drawing, an action to be yielded to or resisted according to the whims of the subject. It is a complete action, the subjects are drawn irresistibly and totally. If the drawn ones merely "sensed" His drawing but could resist, Jesus would have said, "I will cause all men to sense my drawing power." But the wonderful words "unto Me" denote the object and the end of the drawing. He says not, "I will draw all toward Me," but " unto Me." A total, completed action. "I will draw all men UNTO ME" all the way! Hallelujah! It should be clear to every thinking mind that the last Adam has more power than the first; that the Almighty cannot fail; that He has a plan by which He will cause ALL to come at the appointed time, praise His wonderful name!
Are you agitated over the wayward condition of sons and daughters, or of other loved ones? Then rest in God's provision, for he has appointed a time when they too shall come to Christ. And if they are not responding to the many attempts to convert them, then it is because God is not calling them yet. But never fear, in due time He will merely point His finger at them and all of heaven's hosts will converge upon them to bring them to their promised and purchased salvation.
Paul Mueller relates the following story which so beautifully documents Christ's power and ability to draw all men unto Himself:
"Some years ago, during our missionary tour in Nigeria, West Africa, we were told a fascinating story of a people who lived on an island off the coast of Africa. These island people were in a remote area and somewhat isolated from the mainland, but God sought to bring a significant number of people on this island to salvation. There were no missionaries or other Christians on the island, so the Lord gave a dream to the chief of the tribe. In the dream, the chief was told to erect a cross and call the entire tribe to present themselves before that cross. As the people came bowing before the cross the chief had erected in obedience to the dream, they came without understanding of the significance of the cross. But they came nevertheless, for it was the command of the chief. However, as they came and bowed before that cross, they wept in repentance and their lives were changed by the power of God. Later, a missionary came to the island. He found the people serving God as best they knew, and he explained more fully to them the ways of the Lord."
Beloved, when God wants to bring a people unto Himself, He is well able to do so, even to reach out to them without the use of human vessels, if need be. The Christ has been lifted up from the earth and now has all power in heaven and earth! In due time He will bring His redemptive process into glorious fulfillment and consummation. If God wants to save some Russians, He is well able to reach inside the iron curtain and take those lives unto Himself that are appointed of the Father. If He wants any number of Chinese, He is able to apprehend them unto salvation in spite of the iron rule of an atheistic government. There is no continent too dark, no people too enslaved by satanic powers, no man too incorrigible but what His power can reach them. Christ has been lifted up from the earth, and HE WILL DRAW ALL MEN UNTO HIMSELF. You can count on it!
The purpose of God to save all men is as unalterable as His nature of love and His character of holiness. Not only has God stated that He will save all men, not only has God promised that He will save all men, but God has sworn by an oath that He will save all men! This truth stands forth in clarity in the glorious words declared openly by God Himself. In fact, when God could find no greater, He swore an oath by Himself, vowing that every promise He had made unto the children of men would be accomplished. What He had spoken He was well able to perform. God is faithful, who also will do it!
What does God's Oath entail? We are warned never to swear, or make a vow; either by heaven or by earth. For it is better never to make a vow, than to make one, and then not be able to keep it. Great penalty can be incurred upon our carelessly made vows and pledges. We see this in the reckless vow made by Jephthah. In Judges 11:30-40 we read that he "vowed a vow unto the Lord" which caused him and his daughter great pain, sorrow, and loss.
God's Oath, sworn by Himself, is an expression of God's utter devotion to His Word, spoken in a solemn vow to His whole creation. Let us consider only one of these unconditional promises revealed and confirmed by God's own Oath:
"Look unto Me, and BE SAVED, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I HAVE SWORN BY MYSELF, the word is gone out of My mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, that UNTO ME EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, EVERY TONGUE SHALL SWEAR" (Isa. 45:22-23).
"Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE SHOULD BOW, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that EVERY TONGUE SHOULD CONFESS that Jesus Christ is Lord, To THE GLORY of God the Father" (Phil. 2:9-11).
"I have sworn by Myself." The word "sworn" is from the Hebrew SHABA meaning "to SEVEN oneself, i. e. swear, by repeating a declaration seven times." The number seven is used in the Bible to indicate completeness and perfection and is used as the basis for swearing to point to the sureness and sacredness of that which was sworn. And just what has God sworn that He shall accomplish? "Unto Me EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW, EVERY TONGUE SHALL SWEAR."
Many people who do not believe the truth of the salvation of all men do believe the words quoted above. But they take them entirely out of context and wretchedly distort what God has said. They feel that this bowing of the knee and confessing unto God by every man is a sort of compulsory adulation rendered by beings who can't help themselves, a sort of "Heil Hitler!" extracted under pressure from conquered subjects. Such persons believe that God will grind His enemies into subjection, FORCING a confession of His Lordship through their clenched teeth, just before sending the sinners and unbelievers away to eternal doom. Just what good this would do, I do not know.
I would draw your attention to this Oath of God as reiterated and expanded by Paul in Phil. 2:10-11.
"That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER."
These are not conquered subjects compelled and coerced into bowing and confessing allegiance to a hated but almighty God. The character of the speech, the structural form of the language used here reveals something far greater than a forced confession! Arthur S. Way so beautifully renders these verses -
"Because He stooped so low, God uplifted Him very high, and has freely given Him The Name - The Name that is above every name, decreeing, In the Name of Jesus shall every knee bend in prayer, alike of dwellers in heaven, on earth, in the underworld , and every tongue shall utter this confession, Jesus the Messiah is Lord! So rendering glory to God the Father."
The Amplified Bible reads, "That at the name of Jesus every knee must bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue frankly and openly confess and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
The word translated "bow" is KAMPTO, found in the Bible only in Paul's writings, and means TO BOW IN WORSHIP. The meaning is clarified when we understand the Spirit that moved Paul when he said, "For this cause I BOW my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:14). No compulsory adulation there! What love and worship and adoration moved Paul to BOW low before the One whose love had completely won his heart in unmovable allegiance. He was captivated by this altogether lovely One. Humbled by the knowledge that he was the "chiefest of sinners," and awed by the love and mercy of the Lord, he bowed his knees - worship and adoration freely and spontaneously flowing from every part of his being.
For the present time, such bowing, such worship, is found only in the "firstfruits" - those whom God has apprehended and drawn to Himself in this age. But we read of a coming day, witnessed in spirit by the beloved apostle John - "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth ... heard I saying, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him that sifts upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever" (Rev. 5:14).
As one has written, "All, we are told, will bow the knee. This is always a sign of fealty and worship. Surrender to a conqueror is not indicated by bowing the knees, but by raising the hands high above the head. In one of the darkest days of Israel's defection God reserved seven thousand men who had not bowed the knee to Baal (Rom. 11:4). It is clear from this that this is no mere perfunctory performance, but that it involves a hearty homage. If He spared those who did not bow the knee to Baal, how much more will He save those who bow the knee to the Saviour of His selection?"
This gives the key to God's Oath in Isa. 45:23; "Unto Me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear." When this great Oath is fulfilled it will be found that it was only by virtue of a SAVIOUR that every knee has bowed and every tongue confessed to God. They all bow at the name of Jesus! "Jesus" signifies "Jehovah is salvation." Ah - it is in the name of God the Savior that they bow! Not in the name of God as judge, general, or dictator. To bow in this Name can indicate but one thing, the acceptance of Him as their Saviour. And notice now, precious friend of mine, upon the basis of God's Oath to cause every knee to bow and every tongue to swear allegiance He commands, "Look unto Me, and BE SAVED, all the ends of the earth ... I have sworn ... every knee shall bow ... every tongue shall swear" (Isa. 45:22-23). This is not a declarative sentence. It is an imperative sentence and carries all the weight of a command by the sovereign Lord of the universe! God commands all to be saved and then proceeds to swear that He will do it, and every knee shall bow in worship before Him, offering up the fruit of their lips, even praise to His name. Those who suppose that it is through clenched teeth that the conquered masses will acclaim Him as Lord completely miss the message of the above passage. But how wonderful that God's Oath is an Oath unto salvation for all men!
"Unto Me every tongue shall swear (allegiance)" (Isa. 45:23).
"And every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:11).
Consider now the wonderful statement made by Paul in I Cor. 12:3, "Wherefore, I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man CAN SAY JESUS IS LORD, but by the Holy Ghost."
This surely makes it plain that this is not a forced confession, but one coming through the lips of men under the influence of the Holy Spirit. It becomes a willing acknowledgment and acclamation. This word "confess," from the Greek EXOMOLEGEO, means "to speak out the same thing." To give the same confession from our heart, as truth known by the Holy Spirit. "The Spirit of Truth ... shall not speak of Himself ... He shall glorify Me..." (Jn. 16:13-14). And filled with His Spirit, all creation shall utter only that which glorifies God. Their confession is to the Holy Spirit's confession! The word translated "confess" is also used to mean "praise" or "acclaim." The same Greek word is used to express Jesus' gladness as recorded in Mat. 11:25 and Lk. 10:21. He said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth..."
Now according to Paul, every being in heaven, and in earth, and in the underworld is to bow the knee in the same worshipful humility that characterized Paul himself, and every tongue is to thank or praise or acclaim Christ as Lord in the glad spirit that characterized our Lord Himself. The loving attitude of the whole universe is to be complete and perfect. Thus all the ends of the earth shall offer their THANKSGIVING to Him for His great love and salvation and inflow of life. What a THANKSGIVING DAY that will be! Every knee on this globe, and in the heavens, and in the underworld shall confess the Lordship of Jesus Christ. What a TESTIMONY MEETING! There has never been one like it! Hitler will bow and say, "Jesus, You are my Lord! " Caesar and Alexander will bow and joyfully proclaim, "Jesus, You are Lord!" Idi Amin will lovingly testify, "I thank God for saving me - Jesus Christ is now my Lord!"
Paul says in Rom. 5:19, "For just as by one man's disobedience (failing to hear, heedlessness and carelessness) the many were constituted sinners, so by one Man's obedience the many will be constituted righteous - made acceptable to God, brought into right standing with Him" (Amplified Bible).
The word disobedience in this verse is from the Greek word PARAKOE which comes from a root meaning "to mishear; neglect to hear; inattention." It speaks of A HEARING AMISS, or a wrong hearing. The verse also speaks of Christ's obedience, the word for obedience in Greek is HUPAKO meaning A SUBMISSIVE HEARKENING. If obedience is a right hearing and obedient action thereto, then disobedience is simply a wrong hearing, a hearing amiss, and then acting in kind. It means a hearing of a voice other than God's, a listening to the wrong voice and then acting upon what is suggested. Adam and Eve listened to the voice of a stranger, the voice of the bestial spirit of this world, as represented by the serpent, and found that sin was at the door, and death by sin.
It would not have been so tragic if Adam's sin had affected himself alone, if all after him could have observed the horrible fruit of his sin and then kept themselves from the same ravaging despair; but the Scriptures faithfully point out the awful POWER OF DISOBEDIENCE, revealing that it was by ONE MAN'S DISOBEDIENCE that "the many" (that's how the Greek says it) - ALL - were made sinners! As Adam fell, we fall each one, for Adam lives yet in his progeny. Because Adam had the principle of sin and death imposed as an actual feature of his biological life, his descendants also have inherited a life principle which involves a built-in death principle. The moment a child is conceived the nature of disobedience is in him and the power of death - so that in the same moment he is conceived he is a sinner by nature and also begins to die; he is dying ere he is born, and eventually the death principle wins out over the life principle and he does die. And, fallen in Adam, men prove he is in them, by walking just as he walked. Adam yet relives old Adam's life in every unregenerated man, as Christ in us yet lives Christ's life.
With all emphasis I must declare that at the very most, the worst offender on earth, has committed a crime which is inherent in his own nature, and the eye of the all-seeing God sees what even we, in most cases, cannot see, that the most wicked sinner on earth is simply doing that over which he really has no control. People tell me that "man has a choice," but I declare to you that when I came into this world some 47 years ago Adam had already made my choice for me! God didn't ask me if I would prefer to be born a sinner or a saint. Adam answered that question for me in the dim and distant past! Never in my life did I have a "choice" until the blessed day when the Spirit of God came and illumined my mind, convicting me of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, taking the things of Christ and unveiling them to my astonished soul; then, and not until then, did I have a choice! It did not take me long, beloved friends, to make that choice!
Until the day God intervened and apprehended me sovereignly by His grace, I was in no way responsible for my actions, for, try as I might, I could never have been different than I was, and neither could you. If this is not the case then the apostle lied when he said, "And you He made alive, when you were dead, slain by your trespasses and sins in which at one time you walked habitually. You were following the course and fashion of this world - and were under the sway of the tendency of this present age - following the prince of the power of the air. You were obedient to him and under his control, the demon spirit that still constantly works in the sons of disobedience... who go against the purposes of God. Among these we as well as you once lived and conducted ourselves in passions of our flesh - our behavior governed by our corrupt and sensual nature; obeying the impulses of the flesh and the thoughts of the mind - our cravings dictated by our senses and our dark imaginings. We were then BY NATURE the children of wrath... like the rest of mankind" (Eph. 2:1-3, Amplified).
Men have, in their blood, been saturated with sin, with lawlessness, with nervous temperaments and diseases which have been the direct cause of their transgression. God in His great mercy knows this, and thus it is written, "And the Lord said in His heart, I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every living thing, as I have done" (Gen. 8:21).
I do not hesitate to say that all the multiplied sins upon earth today are the result of hereditary weaknesses--inherited from Adam! Ah, beloved, such is the unspeakable POWER OF DISOBEDIENCE, a power beyond the scope of human imagination. I now invite you to meditate deeply upon these inspired words penned nineteen centuries ago by the consecrated hand of the apostle Paul. "Well then, as one man's trespass - one man's false step and failing away - led to condemnation for ALL MEN, so one Man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and right standing with God, and life for ALL MEN " (Rom. 5:18, Amplified). Can we not see by these words what a mighty power there is in both obedience and disobedience?
Two persons, two acts, and two sentences affecting all men are brought before us in this passage. Adam's act of disobedience and its race-wide, life-destroying result, bespeaks the universal tragedy that has befallen all men because of Adam. Christ's act of obedience and its race-wide, life giving result, bespeaks the glorious hope and consolation we have for all men. Is it not strange that the negative side of this passage is usually believed without hesitation, while the positive side is strongly denied by nearly all Christians? In order to understand the effectiveness, the success, and the scope of the saving work of Jesus Christ set forth in this passage, it is only necessary to believe implicitly what it states. In the following arrangement the two parts of the passage are placed in parallel columns as an aid in comparing them:
Through one trespass...
The judgment came
Upon ALL MEN
Through one righteous act...
The free gift came
Upon ALL MEN
To justification of life.
How shall I describe the blessing that came to my own soul when Jesus Christ revealed to me that as potent as was the power of Adam's disobedience, mightier yet is the power contained in the obedience of the Son of God! All the languages and dialects of earth do not contain words meaningful enough to describe the immensity of the all embracing work of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God. I fully expect that I will be misunderstood in these things, but I am assured by the Lord Jesus that one day the truth of it will be common knowledge, and all Christians and all people will be forced to acknowledge it. I suppose that all the arguments and persuasions in the world will not convince some saints today of the incontrovertible truth of the words under consideration: "Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon ALL MEN to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon ALL MEN unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many (Greek: "the many" - all) were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many (Greek: "the many" - all) be made righteous . Moreover the law entered, that the offense might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. 5:18-20). The Amplified Bible renders verse 20: "But then Law came in, only to expand and increase the trespass. But where sin increased and abounded, grace has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded."
Grace did "much more" abound. Much more! My deepest prayer is that God may grant understanding to all who read these lines that you may see the wonderful significance of the word "more." You can never comprehend the greatness of God's love, the majesty of His the glories of His Kingdom in the bright ages yet to come purpose, nor unless your spirit can grasp this word "more." "More" is that which goes beyond the limits. A pound of beans is a set limit. I pay 53 cents for a pound package of beans. But if I find in my bag a pound and a half or two pounds, that is "more." It surpasses the limits of the 53 cents. I am amazed, delighted, happy, and a sense of well-being pervades me; someone has done more than required or paid for. It has a language all its own. That language of more than is what the Bible is teaching from the first verse in Genesis to the last verse in Revelation. That is what God is and does. That is what love is and does. That is what grace is and does. That is what salvation is and does!
You see, it is as if a common deckhand in the line of duty, during a raging storm, is swept off a great ocean liner into the foaming sea. The rescue party goes to work fast and before long the deckhand stands on his feet, the crowd gathered around him. He has been unconscious. He feels his clothes, and they have been changed. He feels his head, but a new brass cord trimmed cap is upon it. The deckhands who were his fellows stand to salute him, and in astonishment he asks why. The captain comes to him and calls him mate and the vessel rolls on while he assumes his newly gained place of authority next to the captain of the ship. He fell off a deckhand, he is rescued a mate! This is the way grace works. This is the "much more" abounding grace in Jesus Christ!
Much more! "Where sin did abound, grace did much more abound!" You cannot understand God nor His language apart from it; nor can you really fellowship deeply with the Father in prayer unless you understand Him as being "much more" than; nor can you understand what His Kingdom is; nor how it shall develop; nor His plan and purpose for the ages to come, unless you understand what "much more" means. If your hope is merely something for you, and the rest of the "little flock" of saints, and not "much more," then it is not from the heart of God but is a product of self. Listen! "The love of God is broader than the measures of man's mind; and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind." "Much more" is something for Him - yes, all for Him! Much more means abundance - more than enough!
No one will dispute that SIN abounded, or that it overflowed, spilling out of Eden's fair garden and saturating the whole earth and all men. Abound means overflow - constantly filling and running over like a spring of water or an ocean wave. Ah, yes, sin overflowed, flowed all over, flooded the world, permeated the minds and temperaments and nature of all men everywhere, until the seed of Adam's disobedience has grown and increased through six long milleniums in the field of the world and has now come to horrible fullness. Wicked men and seducers are waxing worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived. The grapes of wrath are not only ripe, but they are over-ripe, as the original implies in Rev. 14:15. The fullness of sin and death is such that no flesh could survive the desolation that lies ahead unless the Lord Himself were to cut the days short. We recognize this fact. Men in all walks of life recognize it. Men in high places recognize it. The hearts of men who know what the score is in this treacherous hour are failing them for fear, as they contemplate the things that are about to come upon the world in this generation.
But what about the other seed that was cast into the earth, the second man, the last Adam, the obedient son? Are we going to credit the disobedience of Adam with having more power and authority than the Christ? Are we going to infer that the law of sin and death has an even greater potential than the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus? Are we going to believe that the law of sin and death has the power and ability to stretch forth its poisonous tentacles into every area of mankind, to the complete perversion of body, soul, and spirit, and then at the same time draw back in unbelief at the revelation of the Word concerning the law of the Spirit of life (more abundant) in Christ Jesus? Five times in Romans 5 does the apostle Paul use the expression "much more" relative to the power of the grace of God, in contrast to the sin of Adam.
Shall we not believe that there is a greater and MUCH MORE potential in the redeeming grace of Christ, than there is in the law of sin and death? Is there not a MUCH MORE effectual working of the grace of God through the last Adam, than there was of the power of disobedience through the first Adam? In other words, are we going to honor the power of Adam and Satan ABOVE THE REDEEMING POWER OF CHRIST? Shall not the Christ redeem and restore every man that Adam's sin cursed, and make every one of them better men than Adam was? Is that not what MUCH MORE means?
"But God's free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass His grace is out of proportion to the fall of man. For if many died through one man's falling away - his lapse, his offense - MUCH MORE profusely did GOD'S GRACE and the free gift that comes through the undeserved favor of the one Man Jesus Christ, ABOUND and OVERFLOW to and for the benefit of many" (Rom. 5:15, Amplified).
It is interesting to observe that while all Churches will acknowledge that by one man, and his offense, death passed upon all men, yet they cannot accept the glorious fact that MUCH MORE the grace of God shall abound unto all men. That one man's offense could cause such devastation of the human race does not provoke an argument, for the evidence is all around us. But when one Man, Christ Jesus, releases that GRACE, through His obedience to the will of God, then people find it hard to believe that this shall have the same coverage, abounding unto all men, and even MUCH MORE! Yes, there is also a MUCH MORE to be brought into account here. For the FREE GIFT is not the same as the offense, Paul says. For one act of disobedience brought judgment and condemnation. But by the time the FREE GIFT came on the scene, there wasn't just one offense to take care of, but now it must cover MANY OFFENSES and a multitude of sins. Therefore, how much greater is this free gift, able to go beyond ALL SIN and gain the victory, until all shall receive of His life.
Our problem seems to be simply this. We believe, oh, HOW we believe in the horrible manifestation of sin and death in Adam, because it is a matter of history in the past, and of fact in the present. But we reject the glorious outcome of the overwhelming grace of God in Christ because it is not too manifest in history, nor scarcely visible in this present day. Only a few have been affected thus far. Men will not believe until they see. But those apprehended to be the SONS OF GOD, though unknown by the world as yet, even now are believing what they cannot see, and indeed the whole creation groans for their manifestation, for the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8:19-21). If the life of God is not to overflow super-abundantly to the entire creation, then the manifestation of the Sons of God is totally without purpose, and all the teaching and preaching about it is a great farce and a wicked hoax. I do not hesitate to declare it.
Who has not been distressed by the overflowing of evil and sorrow and death? But - where sin increased and abounded, grace has surpassed it and increased the more and superabounded. In the same place where sin and evil overflowed, grace did - do we dare to say what the Scripture says here? Will not someone think that we are getting off into some heresy? Oh well, we will just happily sing it out - "where sin overflowed, grace did exceedingly more than overflow!" Where evil flooded, grace more than flooded. Grace equaled the overflow of sin, and then more! Grace overflowed where sin did, and then became permanent floods of mercy and redemption! If the Word of God does not teach this, then I know nothing of the Word. Oft times we have sung the little chorus: "His love has no limit, His grace has no measure, His power has no boundaries known unto man, For out of His infinite riches in Jesus, He gives, and gives, and gives again!" The limitation of God's mercy, if it were possible, would be the condemnation of God Himself. If there are limits to His mercy, then the word of God, which says that "His mercy endures forever," is a lie. The limitation of God's mercy is a trick of the devil, to discredit God and defeat His Gospel. The limitation of God's mercy makes the disobedience of Adam more powerful and enduring than the obedience of Christ. . I am glad for a Gospel that is coextensive with, and greater than the devil's work in spirit, soul and body. I am glad for a Gospel that is not limited to a man's heartbeat, for our great High Priest is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever lives to make intercession for them. I am glad for a Gospel that is not limited to one age, or to the three-score-and-ten years of man's frail existence, but reaches out into the ages to come until God is all in all! I am so glad for a Gospel which tells me that God has made a way by which even His banished may return. The Lord Jesus, the Christ, said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw" - how many? ALL men. "ALL MEN unto Myself!" (Jn. 12:32). If that proclamation is not true, if He is not strong enough and gracious enough to draw every man on earth, and under the earth, and throughout the universe unto Himself, then He told a lie.
If you say that sin abounds to an extent not equaled by grace, you again contradict the Word of God. If God could eventually be defeated in the purpose for which He created man, to be an "Habitation" for Himself, "in the Spirit," and if He were to abandon all effort, and permit man throughout the endlessness of eternity to be possessed by the devil, then He had better stop saying that He is God Almighty, All-wise and All-merciful. That would be failure and proof that the devil is stronger than the Christ, that sin exceeds grace, which we know is not true. You will have to tear your Bible all to pieces if you teach such doctrine.
"Well then, as one man's trespass led to condemnation for ALL MEN, so one Man's act of righteousness leads to acquittal and right standing with God, and life FOR ALL MEN" (Rom. 5:18, Amplified). How final, how supreme, how absolute is this word! There is no appeal from it. There is no escaping it. There is no disregarding it. There is no discrediting it. God stands as His own witness to this act, and all mankind will eventually be forced to accept the truth of it and God will be glorified through it all!
"This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach" (I Tim. 4:9-11). I have suffered reproach because I have trusted in the Living God as "the Saviour of ALL MEN, specially (in a special way, measure) those that believe." I have been exhorted by unthinking brethren to stop teaching it, or to at least minimize it. To do so would be a violation of the Word of God, and rebellion against the clear command of God. "These things command and teach." This Gospel I am commanded to teach.
Some time ago a letter came in the mail wherein the statement was made, "It hurts me to the uttermost to have people - unsaved especially - read this or know it - as by your standing they will be all saved someday, somehow, somewhere. So, in other words, there is no need for them to give their life to the Lord now. They can continue their fun in this sinful world, as they will all be saved"
It is beyond my comprehension how it could hurt anyone to hear the lost being told that they will be saved. That is exactly what we are sent to tell them, the Gospel, the Good News, to pray them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God. I therefore teach you today, as the apostle Paul has taught, and has exhorted us to teach, that "God is the Saviour of all men." Of course we don't tell the sinner to go out and live it up because in the end he is going to be alright!
"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now COMMANDS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT" (Acts 17:30). God commands all men everywhere to repent and as God's messenger I command all men everywhere to repent. And thank God, they shall! The One who commands men to repent is the almighty Christ of God. Have you prayed for your loved ones and friends, and then despaired lest God should fail to reach them? Why, my dear friend, are you so sad? All power is given unto our Lord and Saviour in heaven and in earth. At His Word rainwater and dew become the grape-juice; tiny handfuls of grain fill autumn barns; storms die away into calm; fish are led through the path of the sea; rills are sent among the mountains; and stars are maintained in their courses, so that "not one fails." What God commands shall be carried out. Do you believe it?
Think of all the wrong and evil that was done to the Son of God during His trial and crucifixion. Things that many Churches would have us believe would separate men from God for all eternity. There was railing, ridicule, false accusations, mocking and blasphemies. There was defiant and utter rejection of Jesus as the Christ of God, as King and Redeemer. All mankind was gathered there to reject and refuse the Saviour of the world. All mankind killed the Prince of Life. "The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against His Christ. For of a truth against Your holy child Jesus, whom You have anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles (nations), and the people of Israel, were gathered together" (Acts 4:26-27).
But what happened? In the midst of all the railing and ranting and cruelty, nine wonderful words are heard coming from the Christ. He said, "Father, forgive them. They know not what they do." Here was forgiveness to the uttermost! Here was forgiveness covering everyone and everything! Here was the healing of the nations. Here was the uniting of the Father and all His creation. Here was the end of the struggle and peace was completely established between God and mankind.
Why should He die? He had loved men. His life had been stainless and beautiful. Why should He die? Why should He suffer for the lies of false priests, and the malignity of petty politicians, and a drunken, voluptuous king and a beastly, brutal procurator, a heathen, who had a good wife that warned him not to do what he did. Why should He die? Twelve legions of angels would have come in a moment at His command. Why should He die? He must die. It was necessary. The High Priest was right when he said, "You know nothing at all, nor do you take account that it is expedient for you that One Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not." It was necessary that the Lamb of God, slain from the foundation of the world, should appear and by the sacrifice of Himself tear down every wall of partition and unite humanity; establish His Kingdom; call out His Church from that Kingdom; put down all rule and all authority and all power; bring unity out of diversity, light out of darkness, life out of death, health out of disease, a new world wherein dwells righteousness out of an old world wherein dwelt Satan and sin and disease and death and hell. It was necessary. AND IT IS NECESSARY STILL FOR THIS WORK TO GO ON UNTIL ALL MEN AND ALL CREATION HAS BEEN BROUGHT BACK TO GOD.
There is one verse in Paul's letter to the Romans, that seems to express all this in about as few words as can be found anywhere in God's Word. I want to quote it and give two or three translations of it.
"For God has CONCLUDED them ALL in UNBELIEF, that He might have MERCY upon ALL" (Rom. 11:32).
The Diaglott reads, "For God SHUT UP together ALL for DISOBEDIENCE, that He might have MERCY on ALL."
Young's Literal says, "For God did SHUT UP together the WHOLE to UNBELIEF, that to the WHOLE He might do KINDNESS."
Then one more, the Amplified Bible renders, "For God has CONSIGNED (penned up) ALL MEN to disobedience, only that He may have MERCY on them ALL alike."
There are always those people who object to this truth on the grounds that the preaching of universal salvation will make Christians and unsaved careless. I can hear the unbelieving say, "If I believed that all men were to be saved eventually, I would just go out in the world and enjoy myself. What is the use of going through all these things we have to endure, if we're going to be saved in the end anyway?"
Such ridiculous talk only reveals the true inner condition of the one who makes such as assertion. It shows that he has very little love for God, but is serving Him only out of fear of going to hell, as a slave in fear of a tyrant. If such a person had the fear of hell removed from him it is obvious that he would promptly tell God to go to hell and then proceed to drown himself in devilish pleasures and fleshly pursuits. I have no hesitation in saying that any man who says that if all are going to be saved in the end we might as well eat, drink, and be merry, is a devil at heart, and convicts himself by his own words. If the wages of sin were removed, he would immediately go out and begin to live it up in the world, serving both the flesh and the devil. He has no love for God at all, and is a hypocrite.
If your heart is that much inclined to the world and your love for God is no greater, then you better go back into the world. People who want to live careless will always find an excuse to be careless and they will have to suffer the result of their carelessness both now and in the day of judgment. The knowledge of God's gracious purpose does not make true men of God careless. It makes them long to become a part of His will and an instrument in His plan of the ages. We can embrace every travail in understanding, grace, and love, when we clearly see it is working for eternal good according to His purpose which He purposed in Christ before the ages began.
Some press the issue further and raise the question, "If sinners hear that all will be saved eventually, won't that cause them to relax and live more carelessly?" To which I reply, Has the doctrine of eternal torture kept men from backsliding? Has it turned the world to God? Has it made the streets in your city safe to walk at night? Has it kept the Christians from growing spiritually cold, or from committing disgraceful sins? Has it prevented Churches from becoming worldly, or sinking into apostasy? It has not! If anyone thinks to use their service to God as a fire escape, He will not accept it. Our service must be because we love Him. Everything He did for us was because He loved us, and He will accept nothing less from us. "The love of Christ constrains us" (11 Cor. 5:14). He does not want what we have; He wants us; our heart and affection. And sinners need to discover the love of God in Christ, and be brought to truly love Him. Let us consider these things, and cry mightily unto God to deliver our minds from all prejudice and preconceived ideas and distorted notions, for it is possible He still has truth He has not revealed to us!
Some time ago the following questions were presented to me. "Why preach and teach the Gospel if all are to be saved ultimately? There is no need to witness for they will be saved someday, someway, somewhere - right?" Wrong! First, the Christian life is so rich and beautiful and worthwhile that it would be the only life to live, even if there were no hereafter. Ask those who have truly known and experienced Christ over a period of years. Was it not Dr. A. J. Gordon who met an old crippled man on the street, and asked him why, with all his handicap, his face was nevertheless so bright and shining? And the old man answered, "The devil has no happy old men!"
Furthermore, God will never save your loved ones, your neighbors, or any other person who has ever lived or who ever shall live apart from a means, an instrument through which to reach them. And WE are that instrument! God declares to His elect in Isa. 49:6, "I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation unto the end of the earth." The method by which God causes men to believe is revealed in Rom. 10:14-15. "How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not BELIEVED? and how shall they BELIEVE in Him of whom they have not HEARD? and how shall they HEAR without a PREACHER? and how shall they PREACH except they be SENT?" Does the salvation of all men negate this procedure? No way! It only intensifies it! The simple truth is that God purposes to save all men. The means by which He shall accomplish this is a people, a royal priesthood, the Sons of God, who are made ONE with the priestly ministry of Jesus the great High Priest, to intercede, witness, speak, exhort, warn, entreat, preach, and proclaim the redemptive power of the Christ until this ministry conquers all men for God.
Ah - does the fact that God will have all men to be saved mean that it is meaningless to WITNESS, to PREACH? A thousand times no! "It pleased God by the foolishness of PREACHING to save them that believe" (I Cor. 1:21). So we cannot preach less, we must not witness less, armed now with the hope that the preaching will ultimately BEAR FRUIT we shall preach more than ever before, for this is one of God's MEANS of salvation! Those who should really give up witnessing to their loved ones, and preaching to the lost are those who believe most of them will burn for ever in hell anyway! What on earth could be more worthless, unprofitable, vain, disturbing and disappointing than witnessing and preaching to men when we actually believe that only a small fraction of them will ever be saved? Why bother? To what end all the labor? The devil gets most of them in the end anyhow!
We who know that God will have all men to be saved are really the only people on earth who have real purpose in ministering to the lost. Praise God! He has committed unto us the ministry of reconciliation. Now comes the word: "And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself by Jesus Christ, and has given unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and has committed unto the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: We pray you in Christ's stead, be reconciled unto God." (11 Cor. 5:18-20).
The apostle shows how it is that God was in Christ reconciling-- not the church, not the saints, not just believers, but the WORLD unto Himself, and now has given the ministry by which this reconciliation is to be effected---unto US! "We pray you in Christ's stead." Not witness to our loved ones because they will be saved anyway? Not preach to the unconverted because they will be saved in the end? The very idea is absurd, a complete contradiction of terms! Because God has made blessed provision for their salvation IS WHY WE WITNESS! On the contrary, to witness and witness and witness to vast numbers of people who will never be saved would be an effort in futility. If I believed that nonsense, then I really might stop preaching!
Will believing that God is the Saviour of all men do away with evangelistic fervor and zeal? Only in men who hold a carnal knowledge of the doctrine in their intellect, but have no deep revelation of the truth of it in their hearts. It did not affect the apostle Paul in this manner. On the contrary it increased his fervor and zeal. Paul states it clearly and emphatically, "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" (I Tim. 4:10). After many years of ministry, being, by the grace of God, an instrument of God to help a great many people in the deep spiritual, psychical, and physical needs of their lives, I testify that I know of no greater joy on earth than the joy of seeing people receive Christ as their own Saviour and Lord. Just ask anyone who has led some person to the Lord, what is the greatest joy he knows. He will not be slow in telling you. Or try it yourself!
The fact that we see and appreciate God's great and wonderful plan for all men leaves no room in us for a dilatory, DON'T CARE spirit. The elect of God are always conscious of their unique calling. We are given the high honor of being "laborers together with God." Some day when the last devil has been subjected, and the last sinner broken in humility and contrition at the lovely feet of Jesus, we shall realize, as we may not now, just how great that honor really is, and how much we have missed if we fail to share in this task to which the Almighty has set His hand.
I must confess that I am deeply grieved in my spirit when I meet these would-be Sons of God who look with contempt upon those who still have a passion for souls and desire to see men delivered from the power of the devil. I am aware of the fact that the hour has not yet arrived when God shall deal with all nations, and multitudes of past generations, to bring forth His salvation in them, but it is my deepest conviction that one of the sure marks of sonship is the spirit of reconciliation. Why speak of our great hope of what God shall do in the ages to come if the spirit of that hope is not now alive in our hearts? It is not the doctrine of reconciliation that shall change the world, but the ministry of reconciliation. The ministry of reconciliation springs from the spirit of reconciliation.
If you would not walk across the street to see some poor soul delivered and converted by the redeeming power of Christ, don't waste your time relating to me how you are chosen of God to help in the delivering of the whole creation from the bondage of sin and death. The Spirit of Reconciliation must reign within our hearts. The Ministry of Reconciliation must issue forth from our lives. Rivers of Living Water must, even now, pour forth out of our innermost being, bringing hope and victory and life to all who will come and drink! Amen!