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Christian Biblical Studies
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST
Unless otherwise denoted, all Scripture references are to the
New International Version (NIV; British text)
Question: Will only Christ’s Church be saved?
Answer: Many Christians believe that Christ’s Church exclusively will be saved forever, and that the remainder of the human race have no hope. The Bible does teach the salvation of the Church, but close examination reveals that it also holds out the hope of salvation for the entire human family.
We’ll use 1 Timothy 4: 9, 10 as the basis for our answer:
“This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance (and for this we labour and strive), that we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, and especially of those who believe.”
Here we see God’s Plan of Salvation for two general classes —
1. A heavenly, elect class, the Church, referred to by the words, “especially of those who believe”; and
2. An earthly, non-elect class, the whole of humanity, referred to by the words, “all men.”
The Bible contrasts these two classes:
• The Church’s call is by the election of individuals, qualified by their faith. The world’s call is by free grace; the general outpouring of God’s mercy, designed to bring them to faith.
• The Church has been called, developed, and delivered during the Gospel Age — an age of faith. The world will be called, developed, and delivered during the Millennial Age — the Kingdom of Christ, intended to save the non-elect.
• The Church is promised the reward of the Divine spirit nature, with Heaven as their eternal home. The world is promised the reward of human perfection, with Earth as their eternal home.
Election vs Free Grace
From the beginning God determined that a class would become sharers with Christ as His “Bride”, and that every individual member of this select group would possess certain characteristics and qualities (Romans 8: 28, 29).
During the Gospel Age, God selected the individuals who would make up the elect Church (Revelation 17: 14). (It seems, however, that God did not predestinate, or predetermine who the individuals would be.)
Free Grace, on the other hand, refers to the comprehensive offer of salvation for all mankind, which will take place during the Millennial Age Kingdom, the world’s Judgment Day, during Jesus’ Second Advent, yet future.
The Elect to Bless the Non-Elect
Why did God plan both an elective and a free grace salvation?
God determined that the Church would be selected first, having proven themselves faithful through trials, sufferings, and persecutions. They then could be used as His qualified Divine agents in blessing the world of mankind during the Millennial Age (Romans 8: 19). The Church will enable mankind, the non-elect — all those who are not of the Church — to make good the opportunities to gain the salvation which will then be presented to them.
All vs Most
Note that there is a difference between universalism and universal salvation.
Universalism says that Christ’s ransom sacrifice on Calvary’s cross guarantees the eternal salvation of every individual.
The Bible teaches, however, that those who prove incorrigibly wicked will be destroyed, as is suggested by the following references.
Deuteronomy 30: 19: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live . . . .”
Romans 6: 23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Copyright June 2008, UKBibleStudents.co.uk. May be reproduced only with permission.
Romans 8: 19
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.”
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.”
“They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings — and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers.”