Is it the case that God chose some individuals, before time began, to be saved? Did God choose others, before they were born, before they had an opportunity to choose or reject Christ, to be eternally lost? If so, is it therefore the case that Jesus died only for the elect and not for the whole world? These are doctrines that are taught by many well-meaning people in Christendom. But do these doctrines line up with scripture?
Hear the words of Jesus: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17 NAS95) Did Jesus die only for the elect, or for the whole world? Is His offer of salvation only for some, or for anyone who will believe?
Jesus says in John chapter 5, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgement, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24 NAS95) Again, is Jesus offering eternal life to all? Is He offering life to anyone who will hear and believe? Or is He only offering life to those individuals who were already chosen for salvation before time began? If that is the case, how can Jesus say they have passed out of death into life, if they already had life?
What about the following scriptures? Paul writes to Timothy that God, our Savior, “…desires all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Timothy 2:4 NAS95) Or consider what Peter wrote, that the Lord is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 NAS95) What is God’s desire? It is for all people to be saved! He does not wish for any to perish, but for all to repent! Is this really God’s desire? If so, how could we conclude that He was pleased to condemn the majority of mankind to the fires of hell before they had a choice to accept or reject Jesus? Are we to believe that God truly desires for all to repent, but created most people with the complete inability to do so? Do these ideas line up with the plain statements of the word of God?
I am so thankful that God does indeed desire all people to be saved. He gives all people the opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel. This is the plain testimony of scripture. Praise God for sending His Son to rescue from eternal condemnation any and all who will hear and believe!