So, Will All Be Saved in the End?

April 30, 2013 — 1 Comment

A follow-up to the teaching, Will All Be Saved in the End? in our Tough Questions Series

I had the privilege at North Park University of speaking with Kallistos Ware, elderly Orthodox bishop and scholar from England. I had read his essay called, Dare We Hope for the Salvation of All? (I found it on the web here.) I asked him about his views. He said that the freedom of the human will as part of being in God’s image, was for him (as for C. S. Lewis) a decisive point. There must remain, despite God’s love and the victory and future restoration of all things in Christ, the possibility of choosing to refuse God’s gift. His article is worth reading to understand how Christians through the centuries have addressed these issues.

Here are some C.S. Lewis’ quotes on this subject that are insightful and provocative.

To enter hell is to be banished from humanity.  What is cast (or casts itself) into hell is not a man: it is “remains.”To be a complete man, means to have the passions obedient to the will and the will offered to God…hell was not made for men…It is in no sense parallel to heaven. (from The Problem of Pain)

“There are only two kinds of people in the end: Those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, chose it.  Without that self- choice there could be no Hell.  No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.  Those who seek, find…” The Great Divorce

In the long run the answer to all those who object to the doctrine of hell, is itself a question: “What are you asking God to do?” To wipe out their past sins and, at all costs, to give them a fresh start, smoothing every difficulty and offering every miraculous help? But He has done so, on Calvary. To forgive them?  They will not be forgiven. To leave them alone? Alas, I am afraid that is what He does.

ONE MORE resource for deeper study that I’ve appreciated is an important alternative to some western views of heaven and hell that often come more from Dante’s Inferno and Greek mythology than from biblical teaching. It is linked here: Heaven and Hell in the Afterlife According to the Bible, by Peter Chopelas, an Eastern Orthodox writer.  Though the writer sees this understanding as being counter to both Roman Catholicism and Protestantism, I would say that many evangelicals, including myself, increasingly accept the basic premise of this line of study. Certainly Lewis was on this train.

What Questions are raised for you by this discussion?

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One response to So, Will All Be Saved in the End?

  1. 

    As good as C.S. Lewis is to read, and Greek Mythology might be to learn about, perhaps biblical exposition would be of more use? One simply must ignore vast amounts of Scripture (or make it metaphorically irrelevant) to believe in universality. Believing in universality that all will be saved is a heresy that does grievous harm to the gospel message of justice, redemption, and salvation. (some of the text above indicates that universality is a real concept if only we, using a will of our own, choose God. From where do we get this ‘will’ of our own? From where does this inner goodness emanate in us? What biblical passage says we have such a power?)

    As I understand the teachings I have received in church, we clearly refuse God’s gift of salvation as sinners separated from God in our birth as sons and daughters of Adam. We are ‘dead’ in our trespasses. The dead are unable to make themselves be alive (the last time I checked anyway). Can we do works (include ‘choosing’ works) to be good, to be saved?

    If to be saved we must fulfill the law of God (either in the Old T. respect, and/or the New (Jesus: “if you love me, you will obey my commands), then oh my, show me one other than our Lord who has will do that? To say that *all* fall short of the glory of God is no small thing. So I do agree with universality in many respects– *all* were born in God’s image and *all* have been given enough general revelation to know of God.. however, *all* have fallen short.. all are sinners… all cannot save themselves by any choice they are capable of making of their own merit… all do not deserve the saving grace of our Lord and Savior (no matter how smart or nice we all are).

    That God would chose anyone for a holy eternal life with Him is an act of immeasurable grace – through faith – and even that faith not a choice of ourselves – but a gift from God – such that none of us can boast of our own works (a work to even choose God out of our alienation). So the Good News is that God did in fact choose sinners, to redeem them, to sanctify them, and to glorify them. I have never ever in my life heard of or met a person who, as a sinner dead in their trespasses, chose God. Not Abraham, not Noah, not David, none of the disciples, not the Apostle Paul, not my grandfather, not me. How great is that grace? How wonderful is that mercy?

    So universality? It is up to God, not up to man. And if universality is true, it is extra-biblical. Should we pray for it? By all means. (It is worthy, I think, to note that Jesus himself did not pray for the ‘whole world’ shortly before his crucifixion, but for those who God had given them …John 17:9. “I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours.”).

    I am just a layperson, but I recommend rather than allowing people to think there might be some end time gathering up of ‘all’ peoples, regardless of repentance, unto a salvation that they never expressed a desire for, and in fact, rebelled against — that it would be much more helpful to remind all that God, for His own pleasure and understanding, is a God of perfect justice as well as of immeasurable grace; and for people to know that from Scripture ‘few are chosen’, and for them to repent and then ‘make their election sure’ as they then truly begin to love their neighbor and God with all their heart, soul and mind. For them, instead of pondering the vain philosophy of man (even CS Lewis), to be reading His Word, and humbly praying that He would indeed be their personal Savior despite the undeniable reality that they are, as sinners, most worthy of damnation — and in desperate need for the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

    Theologically, I think I understand the problem that is raised in the blog.. if we do not ourselves choose hell (“our will” be done), how can then we be condemned to hell? The orthodox answer through the ages, and I believe the biblical answer, is that Adam perfectly represented us federally, and thus we would (and therefore through his perfect representation) have done exactly the same thing to eat of the forbidden fruit. Therefore, we (not just Adam) have made our willful choice from the beginning. The key verse is Romans 5:12. And this is followed, theologically, closely by Romans 10:9. What within ourselves would cause us to profess Christ and be saved? We, in our sinful state, cannot now simply choose differently. But God can choose us – and grant us His favor according to His Will. And as He chooses us, he provided the very means to meet (not abdicate) his perfect justice through Jesus Christ…who died for those God has granted his grace and mercy to. Not my will be done (to remain in rebellion), but his will….. thank God! Luther’s commentaries, as well as countless protestant others, make this the core of protestant faith I think…justification by faith alone, grace alone, in Christ alone..gifted from God’s glory alone. So the objection is that it is perhaps ‘unfair’ to condemn us to hell — when it is much more true that it is ‘unfair’ to have Jesus die on the cross to save any of us, no matter how many that is.

    So this blog entry was appreciated in that it is did cause at least one to return to the root of the Gospel message, and bend to knee, and pray a prayer as follows:

    EPH 1:17 That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, 19 And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to those who believe, according to the working of his mighty power. 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

    Dead in trespass; alive only through a grace and faith given by God, not of our choice:
    1 Rom. 3:9-20, 23; 1 John 1:8, 10, 1 Matt. 7:14; John 3:16, 18, 36; Rom. 11:16-21
    2 Gen. 6:5; Jer. 17:9; Rom. 7:23-24; 8:7; Eph. 2:1-3; Titus 3:3, Gen. 8:21; Job 14:4; Isa. 53:6, 2 John 3:3-5, Rom. 5:12, 18, 19,

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