2nd November 2013

Universal Salvation, or Universal Grace? 

“…that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Romans 10:9 (NKJV)

The concept of universal salvation says that God is so loving, so all forgiving, that no matter what you do, say, or how you live your life, in the end God will accept you—and you will be saved. The idea is that everyone will be saved, no matter what, because of who God is, a God of love and mercy. How could, so the idea goes, such a God, ever condemn anyone?

Well, scripture gives us God’s intention. Here’s one such verse: “…who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Notice, I said: “God’s intention”, because it is very obvious that not all will accept that knowledge and eventually choose salvation. Scripture makes it very obvious that we all have free choice, given to us by God himself, and God will always honour our choice, while at the same time urging us to choose the right against the wrong. This was true even back in Old Testament times: “Oh, that they had such a heart in them that they would fear Me and always keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!” God told Moses (Deuteronomy 5:29). The clear implication is that not all have such a heart, and not all will choose the right path.

And we know that not all will be saved because Malachi 4:3 indicates that some will end up as ashes to be trampled underfoot. Jesus himself tells us: “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in Gehenna [marginal reading]” (Matthew 10:28). Clearly God will honour the choice of some who have chosen to reject salvation! That’s not universal salvation!

No, salvation will not be universal. But from God’s perspective, salvation is to be offered to all. Everyone somewhere down the line, in this life or at some other time, as God provides and God determines, will, definitely, have an opportunity to come to know God and come to the place where they can choose to accept Jesus’ sacrifice for their own sins, which is the only way to salvation, through God’s grace (Romans 10:9; 2 Timothy 1:9).  And that’s universal grace, which is what we find in the pages of the Bible. A God of overwhelming love and mercy offers grace to all.

Merciful Father, help us to understand that Universal Salvation is not your way, seducing us to think that however we behave you will accept us. No, your Universal Grace, when we accept that, is intended to change us over time into conformity with your way of life, your standards of behaviour, to live in the image of your very Son, in whose name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford


johnstettafordAbout the Author:
John Stettaford is an Elder in the Reading Congregation of the Worldwide Church of God UK.

Local Congregation:
Worldwide Church of God Reading
Prospect School, 6th Form Common Room
Honey End Lane
RG30 4EL

Meeting time:
Saturday 11am

Local Congregational Contact:
John Stettaford
Phone:  01923-241426
Email: pastor@wcg-reading.org.uk

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One Response to “2nd November 2013”

  1. John Rodgers on November 2nd, 2013 5:54 pm

    Thank you John for an excellent explanation of the concept of universal salvation. There seemed to be a lot of confusion on the matter in recent times. It is so obvious from scripture that salvation is offered to everyone but not all will take up the offer. It is good how you explained how everyone will get the opportunity sooner or later to accept or reject salvation. Thank you

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