WHY GOD WILL RESTORE ALL THINGS!
Studies In The Doctrine Of Grace and Universal Salvation
One of the most important teachings of Scripture is the universal nature of the doctrine of grace, a subject so misinterpreted, mistaught, and misunderstood by so many! Join us here for an overview of this important subject.
1. Sovereignty: (Greek: arche, lit: original, “the highest position in government.”)
John 16:33 (literal) encourages us with the statement, “...courage! I have conquered the world.” As we look around our world today it is obvious that our Savior was enigmatically speaking out-of-time about something yet to be fully seen on earth. His Sovereignty will yet be made manifest. But how?
Romans 8:20-21 contains a tremendous and far-reaching promise: “For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” The word “creature,” is translated from the Greek “ktisis” meaning “creation” (not just one individual!) and is so translated in the next verse (v. 22, King James). Is this verse telling us that we have only a “hope” of all creation being saved? The word hope is “elpis” in Greek, a root of the word, “elipsis,” or orbit, like the rotation of the earth around the sun. Do we have only a “hope” or a prayer that the sun will come up tomorrow, or is there something more definite—an assurance, an expectation? The literal meaning of “elpis” actually is “expectation,” and is so translated in the Concordant Literal Bible. As Christians, we have an expectation based upon the Word of God that all of creation will be restored—delivered from death, decay, and destruction—and brought into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Let us praise God for that wonderful promise of ultimate Universal Salvation.
2. Will: (Greek: thelei, “to form a decision, choice or purpose.”)
In 1 Timothy 2:4 we are told of God “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” It is God’s Will to save all mankind and bring them into a realization of the truth of His Being; but just how strong is God’s Will?
The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (iii:47) tells us that the Greek word, thelei, in Scripture means “commanding will. Expressly of God and His purposes and rule...1 Timothy 2:4 of God’s gracious and majestic will to save all.” Therefore God’s Will is not just an idea or a plan but a foreordained Divine decision that all mankind will ultimately be saved. This is the principle behind the teaching of universal grace.
3. Might: (Greek: kratos, “holding”; root of “democracy,” i.e., “people holding might or power”) God has unlimited might and power to accomplish His Will. What will His “Might” accomplish? In Matthew 1:21 we are told, “...He shall save His people from their sins.”
Even more importantly, in Revelation 5:13 we read a wonderful account of the redeemed who have gathered to give glory to their Messiah, the Lamb slain for the sins of the whole world. It contains double Hebraisms, or biblical expressions, for universality: all things in heaven, on earth, and under the earth, and all in them. We read: “And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power [lit., ‘might’], be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.” Can you doubt that this verse speaks of all creation?
A past visitor to our church Bible study heartily agreed that this was speaking of all mankind until it dawned on him that it clearly endorsed universal restoration. Then he suddenly exclaimed that he could not accept this verse of Scripture because it contradicted what his church taught! Will we believe God or men?
4. Authority: (Greek: exousia, lit, “out-being”; “the sphere of authority or jurisdiction, delegated right.”)
An interesting use of this word “authority” is found in John 17:2 (lit.), which says, “Thou givest Him authority over all flesh.” In the next chapter, John 18:9 (lit.), we are told what He will do with the universal authority He has been given: “Of those Thou hast given me I do not lose anyone.” Here truly is an all-encompassing promise.
Many miss this point because salvation is an on-going process which extends even beyond this age, for 1Corinthians 15:22-23 affirms, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.”
5. Mercy: (Greek: eleos, “a moderation of the severity of justice; kindness”)
A one-time church visitor asserted to me that “God’s mercy must be balanced by his justice.” I replied that He shows His Justice by His Mercy! They are not mutually exclusive. Although we are often taught to consider damnation and hell-fire as the opposite of mercy, it is instructive that the Lake of Fire or Crystal Sea in Revelation 4:2, 6 is in God’s presence in front of His Throne. (Also called “a sea of glass mingled with fire” in Rev. 15:2) Not only that, but we are told that God is the consuming fire! (Heb. 12:29; Ezk. 1:27, 8:2) Denominational doctrine instead tells us that “hell fire is separation from God” and associates the fire with Satan and His Kingdom.
God is not a doubleminded split personality composed on one side of compassion and mercy, and the other side condemnation. He shows His mercy and compassion by His judgments: “...when Thy judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.” (Isa 26:9) When that day arrives we will see the Universal Salvation spoken of by apostles and prophets.
Matthew 9:13 says, “Mercy am I wanting, and not sacrifice.” (cf., Hos. 6:6; Mt. 12:7; Heb. 10:5) Ephesians 6:9 commands us to “be lax in threatening” (lit.) for God watches in heaven. Romans 2:4 tells us that “the goodness [lit.: kindness] of God leadeth thee to repentance.” It is the goodness or kindness of God which leads to repentance. God’s mercy, not fear of hell fire, leads to true repentance.
6. Grace: (Greek: charitos/charisma, lit: joy-effect, “to bestow a benefit on one whose deserts are judgment.” ) Grace is such an important concept that the epistles usually open & close by freely invoking God’s grace. Yet it is common to hear teaching that grace must be “accepted” or “earned.” First Peter 5:12 speaks of “true grace,” which I define as “gratuitous grace” or a “gracious gift.” These two pairs of words are actually synonymous, chosen for emphasis, since “grace” itself implies a free gift or benefit. There is a major difference between the Bible doctrine of “true grace” and the “earned grace” teaching from many pulpits.
Hebrews 2:9 promised that Christ “by the grace of God should taste death for every man.”
First Peter 5:10 refers to “the God of all grace...” He is the God of 100% grace! This leaves no room for the popular damnation doctrine. We see the phrase “all grace” used again in reference to God in Second Corinthians 9:8.
7. Love: (Greek: agape, “a complex emotion arousing appreciation or delight in and desire for the presence of its object, as well as to please and promote its welfare.”) This Greek word is translated variously as “love” or “charity” in the King James Bible. We are told in the Scriptures that “God is love” (1 John 4:8, 16); therefore God can do nothing outside of the parameters of love. The central principle and characteristic of God is love. What is more, you do not need to earn His love; it is given freely. There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make God love you less. He IS love.
Scripture explains, “Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.” (1 Jn. 4:10-11) A propitiation is a covering for sin. In case we think that His love and sin covering is only effective for a small group of elect, the first epistle of John 2:2 tells us that “...he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” It has been said that people live out in their lives the God they worship. Is the Deity you emulate a loving God or a vengeful, angry, unforgiving revenger who punishes forever? What a difference such doctrine can make in our lives!
8. Judgment: (Greek: krino, “set right, come to a conclusion.”) In the Scriptures, judgment is collective in nature; the effect of Adam’s sin has come upon every one of us all, and a nation is punished for the sins of its king. God didn’t say that He would pick and choose which individuals in Assyria to punish for their sins, but His judgment came upon the nation as a whole. (Zeph. 2:13) A collective handful of ten righteous persons could have spared Sodom as a collective whole from destruction. (Gen. 18:32) By the same principle in the New Testament we are told, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22) and “Therefore as by the offence of one [i.e., Adam] judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one [i.e., Christ] the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” (Rom. 5:18) Who is there who died in Adam that will not be made alive in Christ? Here is a Biblical basis for Christian Universalism.
In John 12:47 Jesus says, “...I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” Author Eric Stetson has well stated: “Judgment is a form of mercy designed to effect repentance.”
9. Word: (Greek: logos, “the complete expression of a thought.”)
Our central teaching as Christians is defined for us in 2 Cor 5:18-19, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.” This reconciliation is applied to "the world" and may truly be called universal.
Ministers try to avoid or reject this clear teaching of Scripture. Author Gregory MacDonald says, “The first move of a Christian theologian must be to try to defend the Church’s teaching on hell.” Dr. R. David Kaylor stated, “I have argued above that the pressure of debate and argument might sometimes have led Paul to overstate his case...Paul’s optimism about the ultimate triumph of God’s grace over human sin and rebellion is not expressed only here; nor is it expressed only in contexts in which Paul specifically connects it with the fate of Israel. One can, indeed, make a strong case that such optimism is very near the center of Paul’s theological perspective.” Yes, Paul taught that all mankind would ultimately be saved. Yet some may think that since Paul contradicts modern theology, he must be the one who is wrong!
10. Lawfulness: (Greek: nomos, law, “an established rule of action.”)
It is a principle in God’s law that the punishment must fit the crime; this is the true interpretation of the Bible’s “eye for an eye” principle. (Deut. 19:21) In the New Testament also is the principle of degrees, or levels, of reward and punishment. (Mt. 10:42, 11:22, 24, etc.) To sentence everyone to the exact same punishment of eternal torment in hell fire is not only cruel and barbaric, it is Biblically unlawful!
Another principle in the law is that blood must be shed for sin. We read in Hebrews 9:22, “...without shedding of blood is no remission.” For whom was Christ’s blood shed? The Old Testament pattern was made by Moses who “sprinkled...all the people.” (verse 19) Other examples of grace in the Law are well known, including the Year of Jubilee, 7 year land rest, etc.
11. Promises: (Greek: epangelia) Hebrews 8:6, 11 tells of “...a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.... And they shall not teach every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for all shall know me, from the least to the greatest.” (see also Jer 31:34) Many other such promises are found in the Scriptures:
In Psalm 22:27, 29, “All the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the LORD: and all the kindreds of the nations shall worship before thee.... all they that go down to the dust shall bow before him.” (New Testament parallel: Phil. 2:9-11) The Bible teaches ultimate reconciliation, not unending torment in hell fire!
Rev 22:3 (lit.) “there shall be no more any doom” (AV, curse) Universal Salvation again.
Rev. 15:4 “...all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest.”
Isa 65:25 “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith the LORD.” This is a universal restoration of all things that encompasses all of creation, not just mankind.
12. Universality. (Greek: Paneguris, lit., “all convocation”)
Psalm 103:19 tells us, “...His kingdom ruleth over all.” A kingdom ruling over all is a universal kingdom, leaving nothing out. Hebrews 12:23 (lit.) speaks of “Mount Zion... a universal convocation.” Isaiah 11:9 (paralleling Isa. 65:25 above) promises, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (See also Hab. 2:14)
One popular television evangelist teaches universal restoration for all of our animal pets, but not for humans! You might ask who Christ died for? We read in 1 Corinthians 9:9 (lit.), “Not for oxen is the care of God!”
13. Purpose: (Greek: prothesis, lit: “before-placing”; “a goal kept before the mind”)
Second Timothy 1:9-10 tells us of God, “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus...who hath abolished death...” The purpose of Christ’s sacrifice was to put away sin and death, which will be made manifest in the ages to come. (Eph. 2:7) Similarly, 2 Peter 3:9 states that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
14. Glory: (Greek: doxa, “a highly favorable opinion and that which impresses it on the senses or the mind.”) Isaiah 40:5 says, “the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh [lit., ‘all mankind’] shall see it together.” Similarly, Habakkuk 2:14 promises, “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” The expression, “as the waters cover the sea” is a Hebraism for universality, meaning no one is excluded. Such verses cannot be explained outside of the belief in Christian Universalism.
15. Plan: (Greek: boule, “plan or counsel”)
Ephesians 1:10-11 states, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.” God’s plan is to “gather together...all things in Christ.” The reference to both heaven and earth is again a Hebraistic expression for universality.
16. Salvation: (Greek: sotera, “savior”; soterion, “saving”)
We read in 1 John 4:14 that “the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” Similarly, Isaiah 49:6 prophesies concerning Israel, “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles [lit., nations], that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.”
One day while listening to Christian radio I heard a local minister read John 3:17, “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” The preacher paused and then said ruefully, “Well, that’s what God wanted, but God didn’t get what He wanted!” This thinking fits the theology of many churches today, but know this: If God can’t get what He wants, then He is not God! Similarly, if Christ’s sacrifice cannot possibly save all mankind, then He is not the Savior of the world! Yet Scripture testifies that, “...this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.” (Jn 4:42) This is the basis of the belief known as Christian Universalism.
First Timothy 4:9-11 states, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.” Notice that the word "specially" (i.e. 'especially') is a term used as an emphasis, not a negation. He is not only the Saviour of all who believe, but of all mankind.
“Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15) Another name for God's Great Grace is ultimate universal salvation through the blood of Christ! AMEN!!!
Note: Bible quotations are from the King James Version unless otherwise noted. Greek spelling from “The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament” by George Ricker Berry. Greek definitions are from the “Greek-English Keyword Concordance” from the Concordant Publishing Concern. See the short study, The Universal Chorus for an excellent discussion related to God's ultimate grace, with an interesting look at the nature of the fire of God.