GOD WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED(1)
I am reminded today of the enveloping promise of what God's will is: "God WILL HAVE ALL MEN TO BE SAVED, and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:4). And of course, we know, He works ALL THINGS after the counsel of HIS OWN WILL (Eph. 1:10-11).
Whether one agrees or disagrees with this, it will not benefit anyone to argue the matter; for generally, as the late George Hawtin said many years ago, "A theological argument is like a dog fight in a flower bed -- the only things that ever get settled are the flowers." I will, however, express very briefly a couple of thoughts, hoping it will clarify some questions a large number of people have. I believe it will provoke those seeking greater understanding of eternal things to look beyond limited horizons of religion.
More than a few disagree on the point of God ransoming all by the blood of Jesus. Some are so angered that they would kill and condemn me to hell forever if they could; nevertheless, we present a few words for your kind consideration.
It has been said to me that "Our Father wishes all to accept His Son; but He knows many will go where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth." The above verses express the thought of God's will, yet those with the argument of eternal weeping, fail to see that God's sovereign will shall be carried out. I agree, weeping and gnashing of teeth will come for many, but it does not say forever. The context of the verses where Jesus spoke of weeping and gnashing of teeth is that of the Jews losing their inheritance and authority over God's Kingdom which began in 70 A.D. Paul made it clear in Romans 11:26 that ALL Israel will be saved, not to mention the whole world being reconciled and brought back into God (Rom. 11:15-36).
It is believed that there are a large number of scriptures, mainly in The New Testament, that refutes the statement that all will be saved. No doubt, such quotes would be from our ill-translated English versions that were influenced greatly by Roman Catholic theology laid down for over a thousand years during and since the Dark Ages. Other languages have adopted the same in their translations.
Many consider this teaching to be dangerous to those who believe it. How so? What danger could there be for one to believe in a God who loves His creation so much that He not only can, but will save them by drawing them to Jesus and His cross? Upon hearing this Good News would, no doubt, cause a few insincere "believers" to go into more apparent sin, saying, "If everyone is going to get saved in the long run, what's the use of serving God today? Why not have a little fun while I still can?" Sadly, such people were never serving God in the first place. They merely had the bit of the law in their jaws, and with the threat of eternal damnation removed, they promptly fill their lives with what was harbored in their wanton hearts.
I have been accused of belittling the Lord Jesus, saying it nullifies the great ransom He paid on the cross. Such a supposition is contrary to any form of sound thinking. The fact is, declaring that He will not save all those He died for would belittle Him and count His mission a failure. He came to save all, and He will save all. This is a truth that should be trumpeted from the house tops by every Christian home. Announcing such an all-encompassing victory over all sin, sickness, and death can never belittle Him nor nullify the ransom paid on the cross; but rather, it magnifies Him and the value of His shed blood.
To bring this into focus, let me ask -- if you paid the full price for 100 sheep that were locked inside a pen, would you settle for only the one or two that happen to walk through the gate after it was opened and invited to come out -- or would you go inside and drive, and drag if necessary, each and every one out of their captivity? Jesus would do no less. If He paid the price for all, He will not stop driving, drawing, and dragging until ALL are in His sacrificial arms of love.
Religious mind-sets cause people to believe that a person cannot be saved except by the volition of his own will. I partially agree. There is a willful act when a man or woman confesses Jesus as their Lord; however, this will originates in Christ and not man. Without the drawing of the Spirit placed in their hearts, it is impossible for anyone to desire God. For instance, ""The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:7). And, "No man can come to Me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him..." (John 6:44). However, there will be a day when every man, every woman, and every child will know God; for Jesus said with assurance -- "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw (Grk. drag, coil or wrap) all men unto Me" (John 12:32).
I do not write today with the thought of defending what I believe, for truth can stand on its own and does not need me to vindicate it. I write with the hope that some may come to the knowledge of this truth, by which they can be released from the chains of age-old dogmas which originated with the Roman Church so long ago.
I realize such statements can be rather severe, especially when they are directed to someone who loves Jesus with all their heart; however, my concern for the true welfare of people outweighs my reluctance to cause discomfort. Simply put, embracing the doctrine of eternal torment will imprison (unknowingly perhaps) and chain people in darkness, preventing them from advancing into the truths reserved for this day. It is imperative for people to be made free.
The idea of eternal damnation was not generally taught by the Church as a whole for the first 300 years. It was not until the Roman Catholic church was established that it was instituted as a tenet of faith. This teaching was so successful in bringing people in line with the church that it became one of the primary elements of Catholic doctrine. By the time of Martin Luther, it was seared deep into almost everyone's mind as being true even though it could not be proven by the original manuscripts of the Bible.
This is one of the primary teachings that impregnates almost all the other teachings in not only the Catholic church but also that of the Protestants. This is the way dogma is formed. Dogma, as we know, is that which becomes established opinion, or a point of view put forth as authoritative without adequate grounds. It is by this which many are chained -- that which has become established opinion without adequate grounds.
As long as anyone holds to the doctrine that started in the Catholic Church which, incidently, was borrowed from the teachings of pagan religions, they will be lacking in truth. The following is from the book -- The Prevailing Doctrine of the Christian Church During Its First Five Hundred Years By J.W. Hanson, D.D.(2)
"The Pagan and Jewish religions, the latter corrupted by heathen additions, taught eternal torment(3). Classic scholars know that the heathen hell was early copied by the Catholic church, and that almost its entire details afterwards entered into the creeds of Catholic and Protestant churches up to a century ago. Any reader may see this who will consult Pagan literature and writers on the opinions of the ancients. And not only this, but the heathen writers declare that the doctrine was invented to instill a pseudo-reverence and fear and control the multitude. Polybius writes: 'Since the multitude is ever fickle there is no other way to keep them in order but by fear of the invisible world; on which account our ancestors seem to me to have acted soundly, when they contrived to bring into the popular belief these notions of the gods and of the hell regions.' Seneca says: 'Those things which make the hell regions terrible, the darkness, the prison, the river of flaming fire, the judgment seat, etc., are all a fable.' Livy declares that Numa invented the doctrine, 'a most effective means of governing an ignorant and barbarous populace.' Strabo writes: 'The multitude are restrained from vice by the punishments the gods are said to inflict upon offenders, for it is impossible to govern the crowd of women and all the common rabble by philosophical reasoning: these things the legislators used as scarecrows to terrify the childish multitude.' Similar language is found in Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Plato, and other writers. History records nothing more distinctly than that the Greek and Roman Pagans borrowed of the Egyptians, and that some of the early Christians unconsciously absorbed, or studiously appropriated, the doctrines of the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans concerning punishment after death, and gradually corrupted the 'simplicity that is in Christ' by the inventions of antiquity, as from the same sources the Jews at the time of Christ had already corrupted their religion. What is more natural than that the small reservoir of Christian truth should be contaminated by the opinions that converts from all these sources brought with them into their new religion at first, and later that the Roman Catholic priests and Pagan legislators should seize them as engines of power by which to control the world?"
My sincere prayer is that all who read these few words will come to the knowledge of this truth, and they can be released from the chains of blinding dogmas. It is my sincere desire for everyone to explore with an open mind the history of the doctrine of eternal damnation and see how it has infected so many of our beliefs, and then by the Word and Spirit of Truth be delivered from them all.
Elwin R. Roach
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1. Scripture list free upon request: 101 Reasons to Believe in God's Sovereignty and the Salvation of All.
3. Hagenbach, I, First Period; Clark's Foreign Theol. Lib. I, new series.