Cartoon by David Hayward, of http://www.nakedpastor.com.
1 Timothy 4:10 (King James Version) 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.
At the preaching of the finished work of the Cross, there sometimes arises those who believe we are preaching no more than universalism; That all men will be Saved no matter what they do or believe. On the question of Universalism, I am a Hopeful Universalist, because God is a Hopeful Universalist (2 Peter 3:9). Do I believe that all men will ultimately be saved? That depends on what you mean by salvation and from what? I Believe all men have been saved from the work of Adam, but that does not mean that all men will experience heaven.
Those who hold the Penal Substitution theology, and think that Sin is what keeps us from being saved, would argue that because we teach that all sins have been forgiven, that that means that all men are saved. Of course, the Forgiveness of Sins does not Equal Salvation. As even Jesus himself said, that the condemnation of the world was not sin, but rather that we reject Him who is the payment for our sins, unbelief. (John 3:19 -21). God has already showed mercy on all men (Romans 11:32), so sin is not the issue.
Some Grace preachers hold that salvation is really Spiritual Life from the Dead. That when Jesus described his mission, he said he had come to Bring Life and life more abundantly (John 10:10). Those who hold this view believe that Humanity remains spiritually dead, until they are born again by faith and from then become alive spiritually. The only problem is that the bible actually teaches that we were made Alive Spiritually, with Christ, completely Independent of our faith, while we were still sinners.
Colossians 2:13 (New King James Version) And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,
Ephesians 2:5 (New King James Version) even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),
So if all our sins are forgiven, and all are spiritually alive, by Christ’s Finished work and not of our efforts, what then is salvation? This all goes back to God’s Ultimate Purpose in Creation. God wants Relationship with his children. As Jesus said, John 17:3 (King James Version) And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. Salvation is finding yourself in relationship with the Godhead.
The Gospel is Good News for everyone! News is something that has already happened to you. All of Humanity has been saved from the Work of Adam, been Forgiven, been made Spiritually Alive and have all ascended in Christ to the right hand of the Father Spiritually, without any input from us. We have all been “saved” from God’s Point of View because of the Finish work of Christ. But, does that mean we will all experience heaven as Universalism teaches? No.
In Life, all of Humanity is on the only train ride there is, called “In Christ.” For those who trust the driver (Jesus), we enjoy the ride. But some are in darkness; who don’t know the driver or have rejected the Driver and are trying all how to escape the train. For them it is torment being a train they don’t want to be on.
Ultimately at death, when we reach the final destination, next to the Father, for them who trusted Jesus Christ while on the ride, they will experience God as Heaven, bliss and Joy. To those who hated God or rejected him on the ride, they will experience God as hell, torment and a consuming Fire (Daniel 7:10, Revelation 14:10). So even though Jesus Christ has saved all people, we can either trust Him and enjoy the experience or reject Him and suffer the consequences.
We are saved by Grace (The Finished Work of Jesus that took us out from Adam to be next to the Father without our input), through faith (we now have a choice to trust his finished work or reject it.) (Ephesians 2:8)
Our Faith or Lack of faith does not Change what Jesus has done for all people. Whether we believe it or not, the tracks have been laid, we are all on the ride, this is the only way we can go, we will all end up next to the Father, but each will experience him differently according to what we do with Christ in this life either as Heaven or Hell.
Malcolm Smith talking about the Gospel