The following question I received via email:
Brother Andre Piet,
I have a question for you:
Within the doctrine of the Reconciliation of all, it is taught that everyone will be saved, but is there a biblically based difference (position in the heaven, etc.) between someone who has embraced, during his lifetime, Jesus Christ as his Savior and someone who will bow his knee, eventually?
With much interest, I will await your answer.
An important question: if all will be saved, what is the difference between those who now acknowledge Jesus Christ and those who will do so eventually?
In deed, "the living God, is the Saviour of all mankind" writes Paul in 1Tim.4:10. But that is not the complete sentence. The sentence concludes with, "especially of believers". I.e. God is the Savior of all mankind, but especially of those who believe. Those who believe, are now already ‘rescued'. They are already saved from the darkness of this world (Col.1:13) and when the Son of God will return from out of heaven, they will be saved "out of the coming indignation" (1Thes.1:10). They are allotted an "eonian salvation" (Heb.5:9), i.e., a salvation for the eons. In short, believers not only receive a much earlier salvation, but also much more salvation than those who will be saved at "the consummation of the eons".
All those who now bend their knees and sincerely confess that Jesus is Lord, are His elected and firstfruits. Elected means, chosen beforehand for a particular task and destination. Election in Scripture, never means that others will not be blessed, but is for the benefit of the others. God chose Abraham, not because the rest of humanity did not interest Him, but rather that through Abraham all the families of the earth would be blessed. And that is no different today. Believers are chosen "for the laud (lit. applause) of the glory of his grace" (Eph.1:4-6).
Believers are not only elect, but also firstfruits (2Thes.2:13). Firstfruits, namely, of the great harvest that will follow. Remember that in the Bible firstfruits and firstborn, by definition, have the highest destination. The firstfruits of the harvest were offered to God (Ex.23:19) and of the firstborn, God says, It is Mine (Ex.13:2). The ecclesia (= a called-out group) that God, today, is forming, participates in the position of Christ, as Head and Body. They are the "ecclesia of the firstborn" (Heb.12:23) and will, in the next eons, at the highest level (in heavenly places) display the overwhelming riches of God's grace (Eph.2:6.7)! Those who die in unbelief have no part in this glory.
When Paul, in 1Cor.15:22, writes that as in Adam all die, in Christ shall all be made alive, he adds: "but each in his own order". The term "order" that he uses is a military term. Even as in an army there are ranks and classes, so also will that be in the vivification (the making alive beyond the reach of death). Christ is the Firstfruit, then those who are Christ's at His parousia. Not until the consummation of the eons, when Christ, as the last act of His eonian reign, will abolish death, will the rest of mankind follow. Then, and not before this, will God become "all in all" (1Cor.15:22-28).
God has a transcendent destination-plan for all His creatures. But the highest ranking will be for those to whom it is given(!) to believe Him. To the praise of the glory of His grace!
Translation: Peter Feddema