I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service; even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. And yet I was shown mercy, because I acted ignorantly in unbelief; and the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are found in Christ Jesus. It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am the foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
- 1 Timothy 1:12-17
The more feedback that I receive on my opinions about the gospel, the more I typically hear people defending their position against universal salvation as the following:
"People who reject God and don't want to have anything to do with Him will not be forced by God into heaven. God is a gentleman and will give those folks what they desire. If they don't want to be in His presence, He'll make sure they are not there."
Here's a couple of thoughts that come to my mind...
1. What "God" do they not want to have anything to do with?
I'm going to guess that it is "religion's" god. The god who demands absurd levels of obedience, who is ready to shoot a lightning bolt through their head every time they screw-up, and the one who hates most of his very own creation enough to have a never-ending barbeque awaiting them for not placing their trust in this wonderful savior. I knew that god once, too, and I didn't want to have anything to do with him either. How many dear people do you think are out there, even in our church-saturated America, who have never heard the gospel of grace, of universal salvation, nor that God loves and will save all mankind? The only god they have been introduced to is either too weak to save His creation or chooses not to.
2. What kind of a "God" is it that, knowing the supposed doom of the majority of his creation, either can't figure out a solution to the problem, doesn't have the ability to solve it, or worse yet, has the power to solve it yet coldly refuses to do so?
Gang, I don't care how rebellious, hateful, or unloving my own child is toward me, if I see him running toward the street with a tanker truck headed right for him, I'm chasing that child of mine down, tackling him to the ground, and dragging him back to safety. I will do whatever it takes to rescue my child from his doom whether he wants me to, thinks that he needs me to, believes that I am capable of doing it, or not. I love him, he's mine, and I will do what I have to in order to rescue him. Will not our sovereign, all-powerful God do the same for His loved ones?
3. The Lord God will force all men to be saved through His love and grace.
Would it offend you to know that God actually forces His will on your will so that your will is changed into joyful agreement with His and He achieves what He wants? Most Christians insist that God would never force anything on anybody. He's too much of a gentleman. The Apostle Paul, for a number of reasons, sees it differently:
"For the creation was subjected to futility, not of it's own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God" (Romans 8:20-21).
The Gentleman imposed His will on His creation so that we would be set free from our slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. I'll take that sort of rudeness from my Lord any day!
Paul had another reason for knowing that God would impose His will on ours for our good. He tells us that he is the foremost of sinners. Paul will always be at the top of the list when it comes to rebellious, self-righteous, defiant sinners. Nobody has or will exceed the sinner who, nevertheless, God saved. And if God saved Paul, He can save anyone, willing or not.
On the road to Damascus, Paul was not seeking out God, not repentant, not deep in prayer contemplating whether or not to accept Jesus as his Savior. He was in the middle of hunting down more believers to have them persecuted. He was deep, deep in unbelief.
Yet, God zapped him into a new man and a believer in an instant. Paul did not say the "sinner's prayer". He did not make Jesus the Lord of his life. He was given the revelation by God that Jesus is Lord and his will was subjected to God's, case closed!
God used force to change the man Saul into the willing new man, Paul. But He did it with grace. Paul tells us that "the grace of our Lord was more than abundant, with the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 1:14). That phrase, "more than abundant", literally means "overwhelming". God's love, grace, and faith overwhelmed Paul. He was incapable of fighting it off or rejecting it. It would have been like trying to stop a tsunami wave with your hand and having it's power wash right over and through you like you were a speck of sand. The end result would be that you and the wave would become one.
No one has the perfectly correct knowledge of God in this age or in any past. Some men believe now, but all will know in the future when God will be All in all. All men will know, see, and rejoice in the fact that He is Lord and Savior. We will know and experience the true love and grace of God in a way that we have not and presently cannot. There will be none who reject Him, or don't want to have anything to do with Him, or wish they were anywhere else but in His presence. We will all be overwhelmed by the One who, because of His love, grace, mercy, patience, kindness, etc., forcibly brought us to Himself through the cross of Jesus Christ.
Glory to God!,
Gospel For Today Ministries' president, John Moneypenny, is an ordained minister with a Master of Divinity degree who has traveled across the country teaching and preaching the liberating message of God's redemption of all mankind through the cross of Jesus Christ. John is the author of numerous teaching articles and the moderator of one of the most popular Christian Discussion Forums (Alexa Ranking: 52,000) on the internet. Visit Gospel For Today's main website at http://www.gospelfortoday.org/ and the Christian Discussion forum at http://www.gospelfortoday.org/gftforum/