God’s Will Regarding the Salvation of Mankind

What is God’s will regarding the salvation of mankind? Does He intend to save all people, or just a few?

According to the Christian church, God is only going to save a few and the rest will burn in a literal fiery hell for eternity. But this is clearly not in line with God’s stated will.

In 1 Timothy 2:4, Paul writes that God…

wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth.

Peter agrees when he writes in 2 Peter 3:9 that God

does not intend for any to perish, but all to come to repentance.

These verses reveal God’s will for the salvation of mankind. And God’s stated will is to save all mankind.

This point bears repeating. God’s stated will is to save all people. Not Christians only. Not 5% of humanity. But all. Every last person who has ever walked the earth.

The only questions are these:

  1. Is God powerful enough to accomplish His will? (Can He do it?)
  2. And if He is indeed powerful enough, will He in fact do it? (Will He do it?)

Most students of the Bible agree that God wants to save all mankind, but they don’t believe He will actually do it. Either they believe He is not able to save everyone (denying his omnipotence), or that he cannot do it because it would violate his character.

And so this is where many Bible students get stuck. They cling to the doctrine of free will and the idea that humans have the ability to accept or reject God’s salvation.

Let’s explore this idea for a moment…

If my free will determines my eternal fate, then that means my will is stronger than God’s will. I can reject Him or accept Him — and there is nothing He can do about it.

Furthermore, if my salvation is based on my free will — and my ability to accept or reject Jesus — then Jesus really hasn’t saved me. At best, he has almost saved me. But not quite. Because I’m not saved until I come to Him based on the strength of my own free will!

If this sounds a bit crazy to you, that’s because it is.

Clearly, we do not save ourselves — God saves us! Paul affirms this in Ephesians 2:8, 9 when he writes:

For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Our faith in Jesus is merely our response to God. It may appear that we are exercising free will, but in actuality we are merely responding to the Holy Spirit and God’s call on our lives.

This means our salvation is not of us in the least; it’s entirely of God. Therefore, none of us can boast that we were smarter or wiser than anybody else. We can only boast in the Lord.

God says his will is to save all mankind. I believe He can do it and He will do it — regardless of whether I or anybody else “rejects” Him in this lifetime. The truth is, there’s not a person on earth who can resist the overwhelming love of God.

About Ryan Healy

Ryan Healy is a freelance writer. He's been a Christian most of his life, but did not discover that God would save all people until age 23. When he asked too many questions about the Bible, he was told he could no longer participate in his Sunday school's social activities. After that experience, Ryan left the church and has been studying The Restoration of All Things ever since.
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7 Responses to God’s Will Regarding the Salvation of Mankind

  1. John Thomas says:

    Very well said, Ryan. I especially like your comment about the idea of free will being an illusion that we hold enshrining it as a power higher than God. Well said.

    I might also add 1 Timothy 4:10b: “we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”

    Thanks, Ryan.

    – John

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Hi John – Thanks for your comment. 1 Tim 4:10 is a great verse — one that continues to confound many believers.

  2. Nancy Colburn says:

    If a person is “dead” in trespasses and sins how can he/she respond to anything by their own free will? God does the quickening and then a person can respond to the message of salvation by the work of Christ, not only dying for our sins but raising from thedead for our justification/santification. The dead know nothing.
    Have you read Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins?” It asks some interesting questions and makes some good points that i am sure won’t be popular with the “traditions of men”.
    Thanks for being brave,
    Sincerely, Nancy

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Hi Nancy – Thank you for your comment. Yes, I’ve read Love Wins. Bell is a master at asking questions. While I don’t agree with all of Bell’s conclusions, I do agree with his main point, which is: love wins. 🙂

  3. Dalibor Sver says:

    Hi, Ryan!
    I appreciate your being open-minded to study the Bible and your good intentions that are full of love for the mankind, as I suppose.

    However, I would like to point out 2 reasons I disagree with you (although I would like you to be right, but sadly it isn’t so):

    1) Logical reason
    If you say that God’s will is over ours, we can see from the current world full of evil that he continues to let man’s will comes first over His. Why? Let’s leave it to theologians. The fact is – man’s evil will currently wins in this injustice world, but we Christians hope it’s just temporarily.

    2) Biblical reason
    So there are number of passages when Christ warns people of going to hell:
    – “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul” Mk 8,36;
    – “And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’” Mk 9:47-48;
    – “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.” Mt 7:13
    Why would he go into all that trouble to explain if there is no fatal consequences? I know he didn’t literally suggest to poke our eye, but he uses such a strong and repulsive metaphor to point out the gruesomeness of hell.

    Hope you’ll use your good knowledge of Word to help people avoid the worst fate, cause I believe your heart is filled with love for God and people.
    Best regards
    Dalibor

    • Ryan Healy says:

      Hi Dalibor,

      Thank you for your comment, and my apologies for not replying sooner. I must have forgotten to reply.

      Your first objection has to do with the presence of evil in the world. Because evil exists, you assume that God didn’t create it. You also assume the source of evil in the world is man.

      I believe these assumptions are incorrect. God claims credit for creating evil in Isaiah 45:7. Furthermore, who created satan? Certainly, man did not create him. God did.

      And if there is any further doubt about who created all things, we can turn to Colossians 1:16 where we read, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities — all things have been created through Him and for Him.”

      To understand why the world is the way it is, it’s important to understand the difference between God’s thelema (his stated will) and his boulema (his ultimate plan). These two articles explain the difference:

      God’s Will and Plan, Part 1: http://www.gods-kingdom-ministries.net/daily-weblogs/2007/02-2007/gods-will-and-plan/

      God’s Will and Plan, Part 2: http://www.gods-kingdom-ministries.net/daily-weblogs/2007/02-2007/gods-will-and-plan-part-2/

      There are three words in the New Testament for “hell”: hades, Gehenna, and Tartarus. These words have different meanings, but translators have often just used “hell” for all three.

      The Greek word “hades” literally means “the unseen,” and its equivalent in the Old Testament is the word “sheol.”

      So, firstly, hell is not what you think it is. Secondly, I believe there will be judgment for non-believers, but the purpose of that judgment is to correct, not to torture. Isaiah 26:9 says, “For when the earth experiences Your judgments the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.”

      God’s judgments are to cause us to repent, to turn us from our wicked ways, to correct us. His judgments are like a father to a child — not with the intent to destroy, but with the intent to bring us into full maturity.

      So I do not argue that there is no judgment. I argue that the nature of that judgment is for our ultimate good.

      Ryan

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