Will All Men Be Saved And Brought To Repentance – Spiritual Reading.
There are several passages of Scripture which those who believe that all men will ultimately repent and be brought to accept Christ and thus saved, urge against what seems to be the plain teaching of the passages we have been studying.
The first of these is:
1 Peter 3:18-20: “Because Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God; being put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison, that aforetime were disobedient, when the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.”
It is urged that as Christ went and preached to the spirits in prison there will be another chance after men have died. But this the passage in question does not assert or imply in any way.
First of all there is no proof that “the spirits in prison” refers to the departed spirits of men who once lived here on earth. In the Bible departed spirits of men are not spoken of in this way. These words are used of other spirits, but not of human spirits disembodied, and there is every reason for supposing that these “spirits in prison” were not the sinful men that were on earth when the ark was preparing, but the angels who sinned at that time, just as we are told in Gen. 6:1, 2 that they did sin (cf. Jude 6, 7).
Furthermore, even if “the spirits in prison” here spoken of were the spirits of men who were disobedient in the time of Noah, there is not a hint in the passage that they were saved through the preaching of Christ to them, or that they had another chance. There are two words commonly used in the New Testament for preaching, one is kerusso and the other is euaggelizo. The first of these means to herald, as to herald a king, or to herald the kingdom.
It may, however, be used of preaching a message, the gospel message or some other message. The second word euaggelizo, means to preach the gospel. In the passage that we are studying it is the first word that is used, and there is not a hint that Christ preached the gospel to these spirits in prison. He simply heralded the triumph of the kingdom. It was not a saving message. So there is nothing in this passage to put up even inferentially against the plain, direct statements regarding the destiny of the wicked found in the passages we have been studying.
The second passage that is appealed to by those who deny the endlessness of future punishment is:
Phil. 2:9-11: “Wherefore also God highly exalted Him, and gave unto Him the name which is above every name; that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Here it is said, we are told, that all those “under the earth” as well as in heaven and on earth should bow the knee in the name of Jesus and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that this implies that they are saved. But it does not imply that they are saved. Every knee of lost men and of the devil and his angels too will be forced some day to bow in the name of Jesus and every tongue forced to confess that He is Lord.
If any one does that in the present life of his own free choice, he will be saved, but otherwise he will do it by compulsion in the age to come and every one has his choice between doing it now willingly and gladly and being saved, or doing it by compulsion hereafter and being lost. There is absolutely nothing in this passage to teach universal salvation or to militate even inferentially against the plain statements we have been studying.
The third passage that is appealed to is:
Acts 3:19-21: “Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old.”
Here we are told of a coming “restoration of all things” and those who contend for the doctrine of universal salvation hold that this means the restoration to righteousness of all persons. But that is not what it says, and that is not what it refers to.
We are taught in Old Testament prophecy and also in the book of Romans, that in connection with the return of our Lord Jesus there is to be a restoration of all nature, of the whole physical universe, from its fallen state.
For example, in Rom. 8:19-21 we read: “For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. For the [creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.”
And in Isa. 55:13 we read: “Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir-tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle-tree: and it shall be to Jehovah for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
And in Isa. 65:25 we are told: “The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, saith Jehovah,”
And in Isa. 32:15, we are told that “until the Spirit be poured upon us from on high, and the wilderness become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be esteemed as a forest.”
It is to this restoration of the physical universe, here plainly predicted in Rom. 8:19-21 and these Old Testament prophecies, that the “restoration of all things” spoken of in Acts 3:21 refers. There is not a hint, not the slightest suggestion, of a restoration of impenitent sinners.
Still another passage that is urged is:
Eph. 1:9, 10, where we read: “Having made known unto us the mystery of His will according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Him unto a dispensation of the fulness of the times, to sum up all things in Christ, the things in the heavens, and the things upon the earth.”
Here it is urged that things in heaven and things in earth are to be summed up in Christ. This is true, but it should be noticed that the Holy Spirit has specifically omitted here the phrase that is found in Phil. 2:10, the “things under the earth,” that is the abode of the lost, so this passage, so far from suggesting that the lost ones in hell will be restored, suggests exactly the opposite thing. There is then certainly nothing in this passage to militate even inferentially against the plain statements we have been studying.
One more passage that is urged against the doctrine we have been studying remains to be considered, that is:
1 Cor. 15:22. Here we read, “For as in Adam all died, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is urged in connection with this passage that we are distinctly told here that all who die in Adam, that is every human being, shall be made alive in Christ, and that “made alive” means “obtain eternal life,” or “be saved.”
For years I thought that this was the true interpretation of this passage, and for that reason in part, I held and preached at that time that all men ultimately, some time, somewhere, somehow, would be brought to accept Jesus Christ and be saved; but when I came to study the passage more carefully I saw that this was a misinterpretation of the passage.
Every passage in the Bible, or in any other book, must be interpreted in its context. The whole subject that Paul is talking about in this chapter is not eternal life, not the immortality of the soul, but the resurrection of the body, and all this passage declares is that as all lose physical life in Adam, so also all will obtain a resurrection of the body in Christ.
Whether that resurrection of the body is a resurrection to everlasting life or a resurrection to shame and everlasting contempt (Dan. 12:2) depends entirely upon what men do with the Christ in whom they get it. There is absolutely nothing here to teach universal salvation. It only teaches a universal resurrection, resurrection of the wicked as well as of the righteous.
To sum up the teaching of all these passages that are so often urged to prove universal salvation, there is nothing in any one of the passages, nor in all of them together, to teach that all men will ultimately be saved, and there is nothing in them to in any way conflict with what we have seen to be the honest meaning of the passages studied above, namely, that the future punishment of sin is absolutely endless.
There is not a passage to be found in the Bible that teaches universal salvation, or that all men will ultimately come to repentance and be saved. I wish that there were, but there is not. I have been searching diligently for such a passage for nearly forty years and I have not found it, and it cannot be found.
Excerpt From – The Fundamental Doctrines Of The Christian Faith By Reuben Archer Torrey.
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