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Will all people be saved?
|Created by Gerard de Vos|
Category: Christ related
It is increasingly claimed that God, as a God of love, will never send people to eternal hell. Logic asks, what then is the function of the Bible and especially Jesus' vicarious death on the cross? If all people will be saved, there is no need for the Map (the Bible) that shows the way to the eternal kingdom of God. Let us take the case of Joseph Stalin. He killed millions of his own people. That means countless wives lost their husbands, husbands lost their wives, children became orphans, and untold numbers suffered from hunger and cold, especially in the camps in Siberia. Does God's love mean that Stalin will be saved from punishment for his atrocities, while the suffering of his victims will be disregarded?
If God is a God of righteousness, why would He let people, who commit crimes against humanity, off the hook? We see and hear of murders, wars, car bombs, rapes, rebellions, money racketeering, people swindled, others destroyed through marital unrest, drugs, et cetera. Where is the God of love and compassion in all that? He is alive and well and there will come a time when all people will be judged in fairness for what they did on earth. For the time being God has committed Himself to allow the devil to rule over sinful society for a season. That is why it is very clearly stated:
- 'We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one' (1 John 5:19).
- 'Now is the time for judgment on this world, now the prince of this world will be driven out' (John 12:31).
- 'I will not speak with you much longer, for the prince of this world is coming. He has no hold on Me' (John 14:30).
- '...and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned' (John 16:11).
The devil still rules (God's program will bring an end to that in the future. According to Revelation 20:10, '...the devil...was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur.... [He] will be tormented day and night for ever and ever'). In the mean time, while the whole world is under the control of the devil, he governs the finances, education, law, leisure and many of the world's systems. That means the devil is in the position to finance and accomplish his evil schemes against God (the devil's main work is always against God). We recognise it by the world's opposition to what God desires, which includes a moral lifestyle. The devil's rule is the reason there is so much emphasis on pleasure, without regard for the consequences. The battle against God is a very sure sign that the Bible is true and that God is real. Whether it is evolution, other religions, drug addictions, immorality, or violent DVD games, they have the same goal, to either let people imagine God is a myth, or to guide them to a lifestyle that will cause them to miss God's plan for them.
How big is the love of God?
To answer the question of whether everyone will be saved, we have to look at what God invested to bring His Kingdom to earth. God's goal is an eternal Bride for His beloved Son, Jesus. We know that love and loyalty is the basis of a happy marriage. So God's plan was to test people in this life to see if they really love the Bridegroom, Jesus and will stay faithful to Him eternally? To do that He allowed the fallen angel, the devil, on the scene to seduce people away from God, so that only those who persevere in love and obedience to their Lord, will become part of His Bride.
God proved throughout the history of the Old Testament that man cannot love the Lord. Adam lived in a perfect situation in the Garden of Eden, but switched loyalties to the devil; Noah built the ark to save his family and started new on a clean earth but became drunk and caused sin and shame soon afterwards; God gave Moses the Ten Commandments and the Law of God but the people couldn't keep them; David was the beloved of the Lord but committed adultery and murder; the whole nation of Israel failed to love and obey God.
- The history of the Old Testament proved that man does not have it in himself to be loyal to God on his own. Then the New Testament contains God's plan to give His Son to accomplish His goal and provide the 'machinery' to make it possible for sinful people to get new hearts (circumcised hearts) and new natures that would be able to love and obey their Creator with the help of the Holy Spirit.
- The history in the Bible is also a testimony to answer critics on Judgement Day. They might object that they could have saved themselves and did not need Jesus, if they had better circumstances (compare Adam's perfect environment); if they got a fresh start (compare Noah); if they knew exactly what God required of them (compare Moses and the law); if they had the resources and authority to make independent decisions (compare king David); if they knew they were special in God's heart and plan (compare the nation, Israel). Jesus was the only solution for humanity's sin and rebellion against God. The coming of Jesus to earth as a man had been planned before the beginning of time. The Bible prophesies from as early as Genesis 3:15 that the seed of the woman (Jesus) will crush the head of that old serpent, the prince of this world (the devil).
- The history in the early chapters of Genesis also show why Jesus is the centre of God's plan. In Genesis 2:16-17 God warned Adam not to eat from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If he disobeyed God's command and ate it he would surely die. Adam did eat, and the law, 'the wages of sin is death,' was firmly established. We are all descendants of Adam, and are all born in sin (with the propensity to sin or rebel against God's authority). That means we will never make heaven, since no matter how good we attempt to be, somewhere and somehow we will sin and turn against God and disobey His desires (Romans 5:12-21). Jesus fulfilled that law by paying the penalty of death for the sins of all people. So only through accepting His sacrifice can we have our sins washed away. There is no other way, and that is why Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life. God paid a very high price in Jesus to buy or redeem man from the clutches of the devil. It did not just happen by waving a sceptre, and everything was done.
- The history of Israel demonstrates how God meticulously planned the coming of Jesus for thousands of years, bearing the painful experiences as His nation repeatedly forgot the covenant, and paid the price for it. Through it all, the bloodline of Jesus was never extinguished, despite the efforts of the devil (see how he used Athaliah to kill the descendants of Ahaziah in 2 Chronicles 22:10-12).
The price paid by the Trinity to buy man from the clutches of the devil.
The devil and his angels cannot be saved from the lake of fire prepared for them (Matthew 25:41), because they served God in His presence, saw Him face to face and still rebelled against Him. Jesus came to earth to save humanity who are under the rule of the devil. Unless people accept God's provision, they will join the devil and his angels in hell.
- To accomplish our salvation Jesus left the glory of heaven, the dwelling of the Trinity: 'Father, I want those you have given Me to be with Me where I am, and to see My glory, the glory you have given Me because you loved Me before the creation of the world' (John 17:24).
- To accomplish our salvation, God sent His beloved Son (Luke 3:21,22) to go through the humblest of circumstances of life on earth. He was born in a stable and was subject to the ridicule and unbelief of the world.
- To accomplish our salvation, God the Father watched while Jesus was persecuted, reviled and tested by the religious community (see His clashes with the Pharisees, Sadducees and teachers of the Law).
- To accomplish our salvation, the Father watched as one of the twelve disciples in His Son's special inner circle, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Him.
- To accomplish our salvation, the Father watched as they mangled Jesus at the Cross (see Isaiah 52:13- 53:12 for a real picture of Jesus at His trial and on the Cross).
- To accomplish our salvation, He did the most awful thing that a father could do to his beloved. He turned away when His Son took the sins of the world on Him ('...My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?' Matthew 27:46).
- To accomplish our salvation, God endured the persecution and killing of many of His prophets that He sent with His message ('O, Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you kill the prophets and stone those sent to you,' Matthew 23:37). Look at the treatment Jeremiah received (in Jeremiah 20:1-2 he was beaten and put in stocks; in Jeremiah 26 he was threatened by death; in Jeremiah 37 he was in prison, et cetera). In Revelation we read: 'You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy One, because you have so judged; for they have shed the blood of your saints and prophets, and you have given them blood to drink as they deserve' (Revelation 15:5,6).
- To accomplish our salvation, God is still watching as the sifting is carrying on, to demonstrate who love and who hate His Son. In the process many children of God have been persecuted and killed. For example, the many Christians killed by Communists like Mao. People like Richard Dawkins don't kill followers of Jesus physically, but he is busy with an all out war against God. He does his best to convince people that evolution is true and the Bible wrong. In the process he destroys the faith of many, and God warns against such people: '...if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck' (Mark 9:42). It is inconceivable that such a person can love Jesus, and it is surely not in his mind to spend eternity in heaven with Him. He hates, loathes and detests Jesus. We accept that people get married on earth because they love each other. Why do we expect those who hate Jesus to be part of His eternal Bride? Christ died to enable people to be freed from their sins so that they will love and appreciate Him forever. 'Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people' (Hebrews 9:28).
- To accomplish our salvation, there will be a judgement after death that will make sure that anything that could disturb eternal peace and happiness will not be allowed into the new heavens and earth, but will be thrown into the lake of fire: '...man was destined to die once and after that to face judgment' (Hebrews 9:27). This is a logical and fair system. Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and others spent their time and energy to foster hatred and rejection of God. Is it fair that they eventually share, with the apostle Paul, the pleasures of God's company, seeing His face (Revelation 22:4)? Paul was persecuted, stoned, beaten with rods, shipwrecked, and many times in danger, to spread the Good News (2 Corinthians 11:23-33). Should he share heaven with people who never had a good word for God, but passionately hated Him, because they were influenced by the devil to persecute Christ and His followers? We say influenced by the devil, since no human being can perceive an invisible God with his five physical senses. No one is forced to persecute those who love Jesus, or indoctrinate others against God. Anyone can leave God and do his own thing. Yet some people invest time, money and effort to spread hatred against Jesus (and are probably handsomely rewarded by the prince of this world for their efforts). Besides that, loving God has never led to the bombing of buildings, killing people with suicide bombs, or hating a specific country where God's people live. If everyone will be saved, then Scripture is useless with all its advice and admonitions about holy living ('You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness,' Ephesians 4:22-23).
- To accomplish our salvation, God allowed the history and agony of Israel to be an example for us: 'For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope' (Romans 15:4). The history of the Jewish nation, which takes up a considerable portion of the Bible, from whom we are to learn about God's requirements and decrees, was in vain if the wicked will be saved anyway. Biblical history is an object lesson in real life: '...these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did' (1 Corinthians 10:6). Why would God want to prevent us from setting our hearts on evil things, if all people will be saved? God continues in 1 Corinthians 10:11, 'These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfilment of the ages has come.' It is absolutely cruel of God to let such things happen to Israel if everyone will be saved. They are God's people. He had to watch as they destroyed themselves, despite His warnings: 'But did not My words and My decrees, which I commanded My servants, the prophets, overtake your forefathers' (Zechariah 1:6)?
- God is very sensitive about betrayal, since He had the experience with Satan. He had to watch Judas' betrayal of His Son, without getting involved. He had to refrain from sending legions of angels to help Jesus (Matthew 26:53). That is why God regards any person's rejection of His free invitation by grace, to become part of His Family, as betrayal. It is a refusal to be subject to the Rulership of God. It is also an affront to the Father who gave His utmost, His beloved Son, on behalf of sinful humanity. If we had anything in us to recommend us to God, we could understand His concern, but the truth is that we do not deviate much from the description of humanity in Genesis 8:21: '...Never again will I curse the ground because of man, even though every inclination of his heart is evil from childhood.'
The Trinity (God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit) had to suffer:
- The shame of the cross.
- The curse of the cross.
- The cruelty of the cross.
- The cruel rejection not only of Jesus, but of the Holy Spirit and God. There is a verse in Revelation 13:5 that describes it well: 'The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies. ...He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven.' Don't think for one moment it has stopped. The ridiculing, crude jokes and foul language against the Trinity is very much part of our culture today. The King and Ruler of the universe remains silent and accepts it for different reasons. On the one hand, the eternal rewards for loving the Son are so unimaginably great, that God will only share them with those who comply with His plans. On the other hand He can destroy humanity in a second, but refrains because He knows and fears for the eternal future of the unsaved, since He knows what is waiting.
The Bible is very clear:
- '...the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and hold the unrighteous for the day of judgement, while continuing their punishment' (2 Peter 2:9). 'They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done' (2 Peter 2:13).
- If the ungodly are saved, then what about the example of Sodom and Gomorrah (2 Peter 2:6)? God cannot be so unjust as to destroy the two cities with all their inhabitants because of their sin, if they will be saved anyway.
- The same logic applies to the flood of Noah. If the ungodly are eventually saved, why did God waste time and energy on the flood, saving Noah and his family through the ark, a type of Jesus' salvation?
- If the ungodly are saved, why are we continually warned in the Bible against false preachers and prophets? Jesus gave a classic condemnation of the religious ungodly in Matthew 23. If it was not necessary, because all people will be saved, then Jesus, the Son of God, who is also the Creator and who knows all things, surely wouldn't have said it. He did only what He saw His Father do, and spoke only what He heard His Father speak (John 8:28). He said He came to save sinners (Mark 2:17). If sinners will be saved anyway, what was He doing on earth? Was God confused when He sent Jesus to die for the sins of lost humanity? No, He wasn't. The Scriptures are very clear: those who refuse to love God by obeying His commands (1 John 5:3), by having their sins washed away and by living sanctified lives, will be eternally lost.
- The following words should be clear to people who read the Bible: 'If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace' (Hebrews 10:26-29)?
- In Hebrews 3:7-11 and 4:1-11 we are warned that rebels will be destroyed, as it happened in the desert. The passage ends with the admonition: 'Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their example of disobedience' (Hebrews 4:11). It is similar to what Jesus advised: '...Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to' (Luke 13:24).
Examples from the Bible to show how impossible and illogical it is that all people will be saved:
If the ungodly, the lazy and disobedient will eventually all be saved by God's great, unreserved love, what precisely is the purpose of Scripture? It tells us to be diligent in seeking the Lord, to persevere under adversity, to pray, and to meditate on Scripture, so that we may inherit the Kingdom of God. Why all this, if those who don't seek the Lord, don't care a hoot about prayer or meditating on God's commands, are also saved? If there ever was an unrighteous, unfair God, that would be it. Fortunately it is not so, since God is very clear about what is acceptable. In the Bible He gives us literally hundreds of examples:
- Can you imagine Jeremiah sitting next to Jehoiakim in the eternal city of God? Jehoiakim despised the words of the prophet and burned the scroll that Jeremiah wrote (Jeremiah 36:20-27), but God said he will punish him for it. The one suffered for God, while the other one thought Him a laughing stock.
- Can you imagine Potiphar's wife and Joseph sitting at the wedding banquet of the Lamb (Revelation 19:7)? Joseph's feet were bruised by shackles and his neck was in irons because of her false accusation that he wanted to seduce her (Genesis 39:6-20; Psalm 105:18). If she makes it, we have to assume she made herself ready for the wedding of the Lamb and that her name is written in the book of life (Revelation 19:7b, 20:15). The problem is that according to Scripture, why would her name be in the book of life, and how did she prepare herself to be ready to be part of the bride of Christ? She was an ungodly woman, ready to betray her husband for a young stud. Marriage unfaithfulness is a no go in God's kingdom: '...the sexually immoral...their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulphur' (Revelation 21:8).
- Can you imagine the pharaoh of Egypt and Moses sitting at the wedding banquet of the Lamb? Pharaoh killed Jewish babies (Exodus 1:22), enslaved the Israelites and opposed God ('Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him and let Israel go. I do not know the Lord and will not let Israel go,' Exodus 5:2). After the ten plagues, when the Israelites had left Egypt, he changed his mind and chased after them with all his chariots to annihilate them (Exodus 14:5-28). He and his whole army perished in the waters of the Red Sea, because their armour was probably too heavy for swimming. So can you imagine Pharaoh and Moses strolling along the river of the water of life which flows, from the throne of God and of the Lamb, down the middle of the great street of the city (Revelation 22:1)? It might remind them of the Nile! Naturally you have to forget that unrepentant murderers are excluded from heaven (Revelation 22:15) and that Jesus said: 'Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done' (Revelation 22:12). The Bible is clear that anybody whose name was not found in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). Just as Pharaoh threw the Jewish boys into the Nile, his turn will come, and no amount of imagining can change the Word of God. The Word is precise, and it will happen just as it has been written down. Pharaoh will not have an excuse, since he hardened his heart against God. He saw the miracles, he saw Egypt being devastated, his eldest son died, and still he refused to bow before the eternal King. What would induce him to live in peace and harmony in eternity with this God whom he despised? One thing is very clear from the book of Revelation, and all through the Bible, and that is that God will be worshipped eternally. Why will Pharaoh, with his unrepentant heart, bow and worship God? He wouldn't do it while he was alive. So he will oppose and deride God and disturb the peace and happiness that God planned for His people.
- Can you imagine Jezebel and Naboth and his sons, eating from the tree of life? She had them killed on false charges. We assume he was a godly man because he did not want to sell his plot of ground to Ahab because of God's statutes ( Kings 21:3). If his sons were not killed, they would have inherited it, and Ahab wouldn't have had it. Jezebel was also instrumental in teaching the Israelites to worship Baal and so incur the wrath of God (1 Kings 19:1,2; 21:1-16). Will she be in heaven? If she is, what is the use of God's admonishments to Israel not to follow Baal? Why would Jezebel be forgiven if she never repented or changed her ways? She must have had quite a reputation if it is counted as one of Ahab's prime sins that he not only served Baal, but married Jezebel (1 Kings 16:31). If she is with Naboth in heaven then God is not the God of righteousness: 'Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne' (Psalm 89:14).
- Can you imagine Herodias, the wife of Herod, with John the Baptist at the Great Banquet? She had a grudge against him because he reprimanded Herod for marrying his brother's wife. When her daughter pleased Herod with her dancing at his birthday, he promised to give her whatever she asked. On her mother's advice she asked for the head of John the Baptist. Herod obliged and had John beheaded (Matthew 14:1-12).
One can imagine the three women excitedly talking about the male chauvinist pigs they met and how they treated them, Joseph innocent in prison, Naboth and his sons stoned to death on false charges, and John beheaded for speaking the truth. Anybody who thinks that these women will be saved must have a very low opinion of God's justice, righteousness and logic (in this world most judicial systems are corrupt, but at God's great white throne judgement everyone will get a fair deal). It is true that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. Yet it does not count irrespective of a person's decision for God and a holy lifestyle. That would surely make a mockery of Jesus' suffering and ministry on earth.
If all people will be saved
- Why didn't God skip the Gospel stage and natural revelation and create people directly for His eternal kingdom?
- Why did He not skip the nation Israel, as the bloodline of Jesus, with its often tragic history?
- Why can people not live as they like and when they die they are eternally with God?
- Why is there a need for repentance, church, holy living, prayer, Bible reading and infilling with the Holy Spirit?
- Why was the virgin birth, cross, resurrection, teaching of disciples, and sending them with the message of salvation, necessary?
- Why is there a need for evangelists to call people to God and His plan for man?
- Why is there a book of Revelation with its judgments on the earth, the final victory over the devil, and the big white throne judgement?
- Why did God inspire prophets and kings to write the Bible as God's final, authoritative, eternal, powerful Word?
What is behind the effort to teach that all people will be saved?
We have God's plans clearly stated in the Bible. No human argumentation is going to change His mind. Anybody who believes that God is going to save all people irrespective of their lifestyles, will eventually die, totally unprepared for eternity. The whole campaign to teach about God's unfairness in condemning people to hell has its origin in the mind of the devil. He is the only one who benefits from it. He is the originator of the All will be Saved campaign. It is a campaign for hell, instead of encouraging people to strive hard to enter God's kingdom.