Jesus Christ: the Savior of the World…All Men…His Chosen People
Christ the Lord, our Savior, was born in Bethlehem of Judea (Lk 2:11), as prophesied by Micah (Mic 5:2), some 700 years before the actual incarnation of the Son of God (Jn 1:14). God had chosen a people to be saved, from His just wrath against sinners (1 Thess 1:10; 2 Thess 2:13), and Jesus came into the world to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21).
Are all people everywhere and in every era considered God’s elect? The Universalist says, “Yes.” The Arminian says, “Maybe.” The Reformed says, “No.”
The Samaritans gave Jesus the title, “Savior of the world (Jn 4:42).” Paul wrote to Timothy and pointed to the fact that Christians fix their hope on Jesus, the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially believers (1 Tim 4:10). We know from Luke that there is no other name under heaven, given among men, by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12). In other words, Christianity is about God our Savior, who is Christ Jesus our Lord (Tit 2:13), and all men who are saved, are saved by Him through faith (Eph 2:8–9).
Not all men have faith to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Thess 3:2), for if they did, they would be saved (Acts 16:31). The Bible clearly teaches that not all people are saved from eternal punishment in fiery hell (Mt 25:46; Jude 7). Jesus Himself told of the terrors of the rich man in hell (Lk 16:23). In fact, we know more about hell from the teachings of Jesus than from any other source. Thus, Universalism is excluded.
This means Jesus is not saving the whole world of humanity (head for head), and it means that not all men (head for head) are saved. Therefore, the references to a universal salvation (Jn 4:42; 1 Tim 4:10) must have a better interpretation than provided by the Universalists.
The Arminian is quick to offer a solution. He says, “God is love (1 Jn 4:8), and He loves the whole world (Jn 3:16), so with Jesus being the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (1 Jn 2:2), He must have died for everyone, everywhere (head for head).” In saying this, the Arminian wrests eternal salvation from being a work of our eternal God, to being a work of man. Salvation is a possibility, provided by God, for people to decide by their autonomous free will. This makes each person a joint savior with God.
In the Arminian view, Jesus is a possible Savior for the whole world, and a possible Savior of all men. Is that what the Samaritans meant? Is that what the Apostle Paul meant? To add insult to injury, the Arminian assures the deceived that all things are possible with God, who has given everyone, everywhere a chance to be saved.
We agree with Scripture that Jesus is the Savior of the world, a propitiation for the sins of the whole world, and the Savior of all men. We also agree with Scripture that not all people are saved, and there were innumerable people in hell, on the day Jesus was born, who could never be saved from their place with the rich man (Lk 16). None of these statement is a contradiction. We simply need a better explanation.
“World” and “all men” have more than one meaning, depending on their particular context in Scripture. Is God willing that none should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet 3:9)? The answer is “yes” if you are referring to His “beloved (2 Pet 3:1, 8)” because that is who the “any” refers to in the context. God does not desire the salvation of everyone (head for head), for if that were true, everyone would be saved. God’s will is never frustrated by the will of man, which is ever influenced by sin (Rom 6:6).
The God of the Bible is all-wise and all-powerful. He does not fail to accomplish His will (Eph 1:11; Phil 2:13), nor does His love fail (1 Cor 13:8), when He sets it upon the hearts of His chosen people (Rom 5:5; 2 Cor 4:6), who carry around His token of love (2 Cor 5:5), who is the indwelling Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9, 11).
If one does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ (Rom 8:9), nor shall he see or have eternal life (Jn 3:36). Unbelievers do not belong to Jesus Christ (Jn 10:26) because they are not of God (Jn 8:47) and will never come to Christ (Jn 6:44), being vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Rom 9:22). Their names were not written in the Lamb’s book of life, from the foundation of the world (Rev 13:8; 17:8; 20:15). Like Esau, they were hated by God (Rom 9:13), made by Him for the day of evil (Prv 16:4), as children of the devil (Jn 8:44; 1 Jn 3:10).
People from every nation, tribe, and tongue worship God in heaven (Rev 5:9), that is, people from the whole world, who were saved through faith in Jesus’ precious blood atonement for them (Rom 4:5; 1 Pet 1:19). It is true that “all men” are saved by Jesus, that is, all people, male and female, who were given to Him by the Father, before the world was created (Jn 6:37; 17:2, 6, 24).
Salvation is simply understood, as a revelation of God, explained in the Word of God, about the will of God, performed by the work of God, for the glory of God. Cursed is any man who interferes in His salvation, by claiming that “God loves everyone,” or that “Christ died for everyone,” or that “everyone is possibly saved.” These are all false statements promoted by false teachers.
A world awaits the saved, a new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness dwells (2 Pet 3:13). All men, saved by God’s grace in election, redemption, and regeneration are seated with Christ (Eph 2:6). They belong to Christ (1 Cor 3:23), manifested through the preaching of the Word (Mt 13; 2 Tim 4:2), implanted with the Word (Jas 1:21), which has given them life (Jn 6:63), abundant and eternal (Jn 10:10, 28; 17:2). They believe in Jesus because they are re-positioned in Christ (Col 1:13), by God’s doing (1 Cor 1:30), who sent His Spirit to them as His pledge (2 Cor 1:22; 5:5), of His sure salvation for them.
This was the work of God…that the saved would believe in Him (Jesus), sent by the Father (Jn 6:29). These do believe, both Jew and Gentile, because they were appointed to life (Acts 13:48), given to the One who is life (Jn 14:6), so that the Spirit of life might be in him or her, forever (Heb 13:5).
Salvation by God is the most perfect, the most successful enterprise the world has ever witnessed. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, of all men given to Him, propitiated by Him. He is believed on in the world (1 Tim 3:16), by those who will not perish because they have eternal life (Jn 3:16), that is, the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor 15:45). They are the remnant according to God’s gracious choice (Rom 11:5), who worship Him in Spirit and in truth (Jn 4:24). Jesus Christ saved His chosen people…all of them…who are in the world, but not of it.
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 13, 2020