The concept of ‘universal salvation’ does not make sense. The only way it makes sense is if a person has been preconditioned to accept it by other added concepts that are unscriptural. That is, ‘universal salvation’ cannot exist on its own merit unless it is ‘propped up’ by several other misconceptions. It is these preconditions that lead a person to prefer Arminianism (and other humanist ideas) to election.
If salvation is universal, there is no need for a Saviour, because the only way to not be saved is by deliberate rejection. All others will automatically be saved by their acceptance/choice of the Saviour. In other words, it is ‘salvation by works’. If this is the case, faith is redundant, because all a person needs is to accept the condition – belief, which is simply the choice of self-preferred biblical statements, an intellectual reaction without holy involvement.
This might sound good and reasonable, but it is only a part answer: the most important factor is missing. That is, God’s decision to choose some to salvation, which is a very clear biblical statement, but which is rejected by those with personalised theologies.
This decision by God determines who will ‘accept’ and who will not (though hard-line Arminianists reject the idea of God choosing the majority to unbelief). It is this inability to make a choice of salvation that annoys and puzzles those who believe in universal salvation. They want a part in their own salvation, so read biblical texts in their own favoured light, rejecting whatever does not fit. They also hate the notion that God would send people to hell.
The basic foundation, then, is God’s choice, not faith or belief or ‘acceptance’ of salvation. All three are part of the biblical ‘deal’, but none of them can operate without the initial vital key – election.
Self-Choice an Illusion
Now, if election is true (which it is, because scripture teaches it), then self-choice of salvation is simply not true and can never operate. Why is this? Because if God makes a decision and does not affix possible ways to alter that decision, then that decision must be fixed for eternity. If this were not so, it would make God to be a liar, or One with caprice. And if His decisions are open to the whimsicality of caprice, no man could ever be sure if God means what He says. In terms of salvation, it would mean that He can give and remove salvation whenever He feels like it.
Thankfully, this is not the case and never can be, for God cannot change. Indeed, to BE God He cannot change. Jesus Christ confirmed this when He said that He would never lose any who He held in His hand. Also, human choice of salvation relegates God’s election to nothing, negating all texts concerned with that particular.
In the matter of salvation, then, God does not change His mind. Once He elected a few, that number could not change. He knows every person He has elected by name. No other names can be added, and none subtracted; the final total number of people saved at the end of world history, will be exactly the same number chosen by God in the first place, in eternity before He made the world!
Because God’s decisions are immutable, no person who is saved can ever lose his salvation (another favoured point amongst Arminianists), though it is an issue causing much anxiety – after all, if one can suddenly be ‘unsaved’, he has lost eternal rest and peace in Heaven and will enter hell! But, this is not so. A man is either elect or he is not. And no man can change that fact by an emotional discharge of unbelief, or an intellectual suggestion that election does not exist.
We find that when a man wishes to accept what is unbiblical, he will search scripture to find only those texts that appear to support his faulty view. This he has to do in order to feel comfortable, for no man likes to discover that his favourite ‘belief’ is, after all, only a personal whim, a fantasy without substance. This occurs when a man decides to change meanings of texts, or inserts his own meaning, one that cannot be verified or be possible.
What ‘Free Will’?
Much is made of ‘free will’. Yet, it is an unworkable concept, an humanist hypothesis without meaning. Many philosophers do not bother to discuss it because it makes no sense. Why not? Because, if it existed, ‘free will’ would require a man to have all knowledge and all possible outcomes at his disposal (making him a god). He would need both to enable him to come to a rational choice between alternatives. And this would need to multiply, the more alternatives there are. Where abstract thought is added, this would be an incredible activity, and when we add emotions to the soup, the activity is far beyond anything a mere man can achieve.
At the very best, unsaved man only has a limited human will, and in God’s eyes, even that is subject to Satan, for all who are unsaved are of their ‘father the devil’! This means he has NO ‘free will’ and NO unbiased will.
“Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44)
Jesus said this. A man who is unsaved will do what the devil tells him to do. Sometimes, he will struggle because of conscience, but even his conscience is affected by sin, and his will is likewise hampered by it. The devil does not speak truth because it is not part of his character. He had truth once, but lost it in his attempt to be like God. And this is why an unsaved man cannot choose God, or choose the best possible outcome. He might stumble upon it inadvertently, but not by genuine choice. He has no free will, and what will he has is limited not just by ignorance of all possible choices and outcomes, but also by his sin, which causes him to veer away from anything to do with God and towards what the devil wants of him.
The Christian, on the other hand, DOES have a sound limited will. He can choose between doing what is good and what is evil, and can fall at times, whereas the unsaved man cannot make such a choice. Everything he does is sinful, not of God; he is perpetually sinful and has no connection whatever to or with God. This is because his spirit is dead, and the spirit is what communes with the Holy Spirit. But, it can only do so when the spirit is alive (born again). Can a dead body do anything at all? No, it is dead. A dead spirit is – dead; it cannot commune with God and cannot respond to spiritual things of Heaven.
God alone – all the way
With a skewed idea of what salvation is, we find texts such as Matthew 10:22 thrown up as an ‘Aha!’ moment. But, it is no such moment, for it does NOT mean we can lose our salvation if we do not ‘endure’ persecution and other trauma. There are several distinct meanings for salvation and they come in stages...
The first is election in eternity by God. This decides who will be saved in his own lifetime.
The one who is elect will remain unsaved (in terms of eternal state) until the Holy Spirit opens up the pathway to God; called being ‘born again’ (regeneration).
To be born again means that God makes our dead spirit alive (which was previously unable to respond – because it was dead) so that it can ‘speak’ with the Lord. No man can bring his own dead spirit alive, any more than Lazarus could bring his own body alive - It needed the personal, direct command from Jesus Christ the Lord. Dead is dead!
Sometime after this event, the new spirit recognises the time to repent. This can be any time from a few minutes to days, weeks, or months (In my own life it was about six months). This exact time to repent is prompted by the same Holy Spirit.
The person then repents of his sin (the inborn sin rather than those daily sins we are all guilty of: this central core of our being must be dealt with, for it leads us otherwise to many sins on a daily basis).
This repentance leads to immediate salvation (as a one-off fixed moment, when our status before God changes from dead in sin, to made alive in Christ).
We then begin to act out our salvation in our lives.
Then, when our time comes to depart this earth, and we are called before the Lord on Judgment Day, we receive the final reward – full salvation, meaning that our status has allowed us to enter Heaven, and our final destination is given, again as a free gift of God
So, if we follow the above (biblical) facts: the fact of our salvation is fixed even before we are born. It is fixed by God. Then, at some time during our lifetime on earth, our spiritual status before God is changed, from dead to alive. After this, God expects us to ‘work out our own salvation’ (Philippians 2:12); that is, to show the effects of being changed from having no possible relationship, to having a direct and personal living relationship with God.
After we die, this status is finalised by our entry to Heaven. Thus, our salvic status begins in Heaven, proceeds by reason of Heavenly prompt, shows itself by our new holy life, and finishes in Heaven. All of God, and none of human beings.
But, we Choose to Respond!
What of our response to God and our earthly change of status? This status is only a reflection of what has already been decided in Heaven. Indeed, this is what we see when Peter was told that Christ Himself is the Rock on which the Church is built (a text much maligned and abused by Roman Catholics, who choose to misrepresent what was said).
At that time Christ said “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19). In the Greek the meaning is that whatever Peter decides to do on earth has ALREADY been decided in Heaven first. That is, God decides, not Peter. Thus, Peter simply conforms on earth to what God demands in Heaven. The context also supports such meaning.
This is confirmed in Revelation 1:18: “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” Here we see that Christ, NOT Peter, holds the keys to heaven and hell. And this is the meaning in Matthew 16. It would have been an absurdity to give Peter the power reserved only for Christ! (See article O-290).
Given all this, our ‘choice’ to respond positively to God in salvation is predetermined by God Himself, in eternity, not by our own emotions or whims or intellectual acceptance of biblical truth in time. Can you not see the ‘flow’ of truth here?
Accepting Salvation... or is it Our Choice?
Yes, we DO accept salvation, because we have no choice, not BECAUSE we have a choice! We are elect, and because God’s decisions cannot be altered, we cannot work against those decisions. Thus, our ‘acceptance’ of God’s gift by grace is part of the salvic experience determined by God, and not a decision based on our own meagre human frailty. This is why we are told “There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.” (Romans 3:11). NONE seek after God – unless he is born again and has the new facility to do so.
This also means that salvation as an ‘offer’ is meaningless and blasphemous. God never ‘offers’ us anything. His presentations to us are on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. This goes for all our spiritual decisions in life – apart from salvation, which is given to us as a free gift via election, which cannot be changed or refused.
There is no ‘offer’ in salvation. God has already elected those who will be saved. Because nothing by God can be revoked, except by Himself, salvation is a legally-binding decision by God; where God firstly opens up a channel through which He can speak to us (born again/regeneration), and then leads us to the inevitable and irreversible act of salvation. No offer!
If a court judges a man guilty and says he must be put into prison, that is the binding decision. The one who is found guilty cannot treat it as an offer! He cannot reject the sentence! Similarly, there is no choice that can be made by the receiver of salvation. Rather, our acceptance is a willing and joyful reciprocation of God’s grace... He sends it to us and we send it back with thanks and glad acceptance! It is not a ‘choice’ based on our meaningless and futile decision to accept or not.
Salvation is a one-way process, not a multiple-choice question. If you wish, keep using the inadequate word ‘choice’; and then tell yourself that yes, you chose God – but, not of your own volition. You ‘chose’ Him and His salvation because you HAD no choice – it is a free gift given to a recipient. God does not ask us to search a shop to find what we want. He just gives a gift, already purchased by His Son’s death and resurrection!
God Failed to Persuade? (Another blasphemy)
Those who say salvation is an ‘offer’ and human beings must accept or not, usually think God failed to encourage some to repentance. We have looked at that heresy above. Universal salvation requires we somehow explain-away that most people are unsaved. Further blasphemy is shown by saying that God somehow failed in His quest to reach everyone successfully.
This is nothing but denial of God’s power and ability, and of His Pre-Creation choice of those who would be saved (election). To even jest that God is unsuccessful is a dire blasphemy. It is impossible for God to be unsuccessful in anything He does. God’s power is absolute and everything He decides will come about. To say otherwise is to elevate human beings and their created mini-powers to the same level as God’s power and status. (Something many charismatics are fond at, thinking they are gods, re teaching of Copeland, et al). We see this in the idea behind the Tower of Babel, and in every man-made movement ever since! Sadly, many reformed Christians are tainted by similar thoughts.
How many foolish ‘Christian’ campaigns are developed and inflicted on society and churches? Their aim is to persuade people to come to God, so the campaigns tend to be along the lines of a circus or floor-show. This is in direct opposition to what really happens – God calls men, individually, to repentance. No offer. No human desire to reach for God (the exact opposite applies, as we read in the New Testament). Only a desire to sin.
Using mood-music and a mix of loud, then softer, words, is just human marketing, not godly work! Many ministers are taught to speak like this in their Bible schools, and it is all false. A genuine, called man of God will speak as He is led at the time by the Holy Spirit. He does not use techniques and formulae.
When preachers follow their taught techniques, they rarely, if ever, warn of hell and being damned by sin. Walking to the front, dewy-eyed and with heart thumping, is not necessarily a sign of God working in you; it is just a natural result of emotional marketing. A very small number might eventually be saved; this is nothing to do with the campaign, but happens in spite of it. Most just fall away, quickly or slowly, and they do so because their ‘salvation’ was not real; it was faked by human hype.
True response to God is deep, powerful, and grows continually in the heart and mind, as the newly born spirit eagerly seeks God and gets rid of sinful desires. The sense of one’s sin and smallness prevails, and any excitement is guided by the Holy Spirit along His own lines, not ours. At the same time we experience the touch of God in our soul, leading us onwards and upwards to even greater things.
We will not need other dewy-eyed people to keep us excited (as in, say, Elim and other Pentecostal-charismatic churches), with arms constantly raised and mouths repeating dumb choruses, sometimes for hours. These deluded folks cannot survive outside their hot-house, and they need others around them, also with dewy-eyes, to stop just walking out the door, disillusioned and empty. A genuine Christian must learn to stand alone before God, and NOT in a ‘universal marketplace’. This ability will prove the strength, or fall, of every Christian when persecution comes.
Real God-knowledge does not come cheap! It takes time, effort, a genuine resolve given by the Holy Spirit to keep on going and to learn everything we can of God. It searches for truth, not confirmation of human hypotheses based on ‘extra-biblical revelations’. Nor does it come by sitting passively in churches listening to a pastor or preacher telling us what to think and do.
Oh How I used to sigh inwardly when I had finished my sermon and concluded the church service! As I stood at the door, people filed past, shook my hand, and smiled saying “Thankyou for your words”. Within an hour they forgot everything I said. And rightly so! I went in with my fixed reformed ideas, and they sat there passively trying to keep their eyes open! We were all well-met and matched! And it was why I eventually saw my error and left the system. And those I no longer preached to just found another preacher, another voice, whose character or calling did not matter at all. Even in this, Christians have no choice – it is foisted on them by a well-meaning but erroneous system, centuries old.
Nor will true knowledge come by attending those long and monotonous regular ‘prayer meetings’ that supposedly are the central hub of church life (see major article on subject). No, true knowledge comes by a one-to-one relationship with the Lord, Who alone guides us to think, say and do, whatever He deems necessary for our individual Christian lives. It is He Who gives us real knowledge that will shape our lives and possibly the lives of others around us. This is why the office of pastor, preacher and teacher are so heavy; the office-bearer must pass on ONLY what is of God, not anything of his own making.
And what he passes on is the knowledge God has given him to that point in his life. In another year, God will have given him even more. “Then the LORD put forth his hand, and touched my mouth. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth.” (Jeremiah 1:9). All else is illusion and sin. There are very few who speak truth and preach truly, making most pulpits false, if not evil.
Part of true knowledge is to teach that God does not love everybody (see relevant articles), and He does not save everybody. His salvic love is not universal; He has a regard for all creatures, but His salvic love is restricted to those He has chosen. This truth is found throughout scripture. Otherwise we are saying that God’s love is wasted (on those who reject Him). God has no waste in His economy!
God’s salvic love is not universal, so neither is His salvation. He has elected those who are to be saved and, in terms of eternity, even those yet to be born will be saved, because of election.
“See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:29)
“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)
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