AN IMAGINARY CONVERSATION
"Brother Screws, I wish I knew you are correct in your teaching that all mankind will be saved. But I am not satisfied about it."
Why do you doubt it?
"Well, I notice that in order to prove it you have to use a new or different translation of the scriptures."
There is where you are mistaken. The King James Version teaches it. No matter what inaccuracies it contains in other passages, every passage that deals with this question is translated sufficiently correctly to teach it in no uncertain terms. Notice these passages; "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim. 2:3,4); "Therefore, as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men unto condemnation, even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life" (Rom. 5:18); "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22). If these passages don't teach that all shall be saved, justified and made alive in Christ, what do they teach?
"I know they seem to teach these things; but if they really do, why didn't preachers teach it all along?"
Perhaps you have not thought what this question shows. Can it be possible that your faith is in the wisdom of men, and not in the power of God? Is a plain statement, which you feel sure is the word of God, to be set aside because it contradicts the "wisdom" of men?
But happily, the answer to your question is found in the Bible. We are still using the King James Version, remember; and I quote the following: "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the Man, Christ Jesus, Who gave Himself a Ransom for all, TO BE TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME." The last phrase explains it. In God's plan there was a due time for this truth to be testified. Good and wise men did not see it, and did not teach it, because God's due time had not come. We now see it and teach it, not because we are wiser or better than they, but because God's due time has come.
"But perhaps God didn't mean that there is a due time for it to be taught."
Well He said it, didn't He? If I should say, "My garden is to be plowed in due time," would you find it hard to believe I mean it? Of course you would not. Well God said the fact that Christ gave Himself a Ransom for all is to be testified in due time, and you find it hard He meant it. You, of course, know what a ransom is, and you know that if God promised to deliver all, in consequence of the ransom, and then refused to do it after the ransom was paid, He would dishonor Himself beyond repair. Yet, knowing all this, you find yourself unable to believe Christ gave Himself a ransom for all, just because men have not taught it; and you refuse to believe God meant there is a due time for this truth to be testified notwithstanding He said it. You further disbelieve that the reason why men have not testified it heretofore within your memory, is because the due time had not come.
"Well, how can I be sure God meant that He will have all men to be saved?"
You feel sure He said it, don't you?
You feel perfectly sure He said it; yet you doubt hat He meant it! If I were eating at your table, and should say "I will have a biscuit," would you run all over the community asking people if I meant it? Certainly not. You would know I meant it. The trouble is Christendom has injured the saints almost beyond repair. It has taught them that they may fell sure God said a thing, because it is found in the Bible, but they cannot be sure He meant it. In other words, it has taught you to disbelieve God, instead of believing Him. "So far as you know, He may have meant the opposite of what He said," is the teaching of Christendom.
"I'm all bewildered over it. It is such a mystery!"
No, it is not a mystery, and there is no just cause for bewilderment. God is Love, and it would be contrary to His very nature, to let part of humanity be endlessly lost. That which should bewilder you, is the thought that He would have made a creation, part of which He knew would be consigned to endless torment, or be endlessly lost in the second death. He says He will have all men to be saved, according to your Bible. According to the same Bible, which you feel sure is the word of God, He said that justification is for all, and that all shall be made alive in Christ. John the Baptist declared that the Lamb of God "taketh away the sin of the world," (John 1:29); Christ said that if He should be lifted up on the cross He would draw all men unto Himself, (John 12:32,33); and Paul gives us the passages I have already quoted. And again, let me remind you, that men in former years could not preach it, because God's due time had not come. Now, that the due time had come, it is not strange that men are testifying it. Paul's day was a due time, and also some of the eras before then. But before the apostle died he said all Asia had turned from him (1 Tim. 1:15). For some reason unknown to me, there were seasons when God did not have it taught.
"But how do you know the due time has come?"
Because men are teaching it. What better reason could I have for knowing it. Shall I follow your example, and doubt it?
"But how can all be saved, when some are to go into everlasting punishment?"
Do you know how long everlasting is?
"It is endless."
Endless, is it? And is Canaan to be an endless possession for Israel? God told them they would have Canaan for an everlasting possession (Gen. 48:4). The sons of Aaron were to be an everlasting priesthood, yet they have not been a priesthood for many centuries. Jude says certain angels are reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, UNTO the judgment of the great day (Jude 6). In this case, everlasting will be unto (or unto), the time of judgment. This word is from the Greek word AIONION; but you don't have to know Greek to learn that everlasting is not endless. Of course some will go into everlasting punishment, (or chastening), but none shall go into endless punishment. If the angels are to be loosed from everlasting chains, so these spoken of in Matt. 25:46 are to be loosed when their everlasting punishment, (or chastening), is over.
Just as everlasting is from the Greek adjective, AIONION, so for ever is from the Greek phrase FOR THE AION, or FOR THE AIONS, for the translators were very careless in these matters. And this, by the way, is why I much prefer the Concordant Version. It is an accurate translation. While the King James Version is correct as to passages teaching race-wide salvation, it is woefully incorrect in other matters. For ever and ever is from the Greek phrase, FOR THE AIONS OF THE AIONS or FOR THE AION OF THE AIONS, or FOR THE AION OF THE AION.
"Does not the Bible say all the lost shall be tormented for ever and ever?"
It does not! It says the devil, the beast and the false prophet shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. ( Rev. 20:10). Just these three! Without any knowledge of Greek, you should know this is not endless, for it says "day and night," and surely you do not believe that day and night shall follow each other endlessly.
"But does not Rev. 14 mention others who shall be tormented in fire, and brimstone?"
Yes, but not all who are not saints. It mentions only those who worship the beast and his image. No one has ever done this, for the beast has not come. But nothing is said there as to how long the torment shall last. We know, however, that inasmuch as those under consideration are Jews, they are the tares mentioned in Matt.13, and that they are to be burned up. Moreover, this is to take place at the end of the world, or aion, and more than a thousand years before the great white throne judgment mentioned in Ren. 20. The salvation of all will be at the end, after all suffering and death is over.
"What about the eternal fire that burned Sodom and Gomorrah?"
You can know, by using common sense, that this was not eternal fire, in the sense of endlessness. Eternal is translated from AIONION, pronounced EONIAN, the same word from which everlasting is translated. The fire that burned those cities is not burning yet; therefore it is not endless. EONIAN simply means WITHIN THE EONS.
Sin, judgment, chastening and death are EONIAN. There will be life for all after the eons. Believers are to have eonian life; all are to have endless life when the eons are past.
This issue drops back into the reaching that beginners need, for new readers are constantly joining my list of subscribers. Many of my readers will get very little out of this issue, because they have already been established in the truth taught here. But I ask them to be patient, and to order extra copies for missionary work. Price: 25 cents for 15 copies.
Again I thank God and the dear saints who have sent donations to help in the work.