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(Section 14: Selective Salvation)
Copyright © Michael Bronson 1998 - 2005
As mentioned in a previous chapter, Selective Salvationists have said the verses that say salvation is offered to all don’t actually mean salvation is offered to the entire world. To prove their point, they quote Romans 3:23 ("For all have sinned …"). They say since Jesus had never sinned, the word "all" doesn’t actually mean all. They say the word "all" can actually be much smaller than 100%.
The above interpretation highlights the importance of looking at the context (surrounding verses) of a verse. The surrounding verses (v. 22,24,25) present Jesus as the solution to the sin problem. Since Jesus is proclaimed to be the solution, it is obvious He is not part of the problem. Therefore, the reasonable interpretation is the word "all" means the entire world excluding Jesus. The surrounding verses give us the authority to exclude Jesus from the list.
Although I believe the 100 plus verses that say salvation is offered to "all" (etc.) is sufficient proof that open salvation is true, there appears to be a need for more proof. What we need are verses that explicitly say salvation is offered to the wholeworld. Verses like these should settle the question once and for all because there can be only one type of interpretation for them.
Fortunately, there are verses that say salvation is offered to the whole world. In fact, since there are over a dozen of these verses, you would think this would be the end of the argument. Incredibly, Selective Salvationists still say these verses apply only to the elect.
Unfortunately for the Selective Salvationists, this type of interpretation does not work with many of these verses. Many of these verses don’t make sense when you apply this type of interpretation to them. Listed below are a couple of examples.
John says in 1 John 2:2, "And He is the propitiation for our sins, and not ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." According to Selective Salvationists, this verse should read "And He is the propitiation for the sins of the elect, and not only for the elect, but also for the sins of the elect."
This, of course, does not make any sense. Selective Salvationists are now in a bind. Either they have to hold to an interpretation that doesn’t make sense or they have to admit that this verse is actually saying that Jesus is the propitiation for the sins of the whole world. If this is the case, selective salvation cannot be true.
John 3:16 ("For God so loved the world") is another example of the problems Selective Salvationists have when reinterpreting the word "world." They say the word "world" is only referring to the elect. However, this interpretation causes problems in the surrounding verses. In verses 16-19, the word "world" is used five times. Verse 19 says, "And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men love darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." Here, the word "world" cannot be referring to only the elect; it has to be referring to the whole world.
Listed below are verses that say Jesus died for the world
1 John 2:1, 2
Jesus didn’t die only for our sins, but for the sins of the whole world
1 John 4:14
Jesus is the Savior of the world
1 Timothy 1:15
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners
2 Cor. 5:14, 19
Christ died for all and He wants to bring the world to Himself
2 Cor. 5:19
God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ
Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world
He will convict the world of guilt
Jesus asked God to let the world know He sent Jesus and loved them as much as He loved Jesus
For God so loved the world
God did not send the Son to condemn the world … but to save the world through Him
Jesus is the Savior of the world
This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world
I am the light of the world
I am the light of the world
An interesting side story about the meaning of words
One of my jobs at the prison where I work is to strip search prisoners coming in from off the streets. When a prisoner steps into the room, I tell him he has to take everything off for the strip-search. About 40% of the time the prisoner will strip down to his T-shirt and long underwear. After several seconds of my staring at his face, he will say, "What, you want me to take more off?"
I’ll respond by saying, "Everything must come off."
He will strip down to his underwear and socks and then stop. Again, I say, "Everything means everything."
He will then take off his socks and say, "Underwear too?"
Again I will say, "Everything means everything."
What was the source of this confusion? Did he not understand what was being asked of him? Was there an understandable reason to interpret my instructions differently from the obvious interpretation? No, of course not. The meaning of my instructions was plain and simple. The prisoner deliberately chose to ignore the obvious intent of my instructions in the hopes I wouldn’t make him strip all the way.
I have found most of the confusion over "interpretation" of the Bible doesn’t come from a lack of understanding of what’s being said. It is usually an issue of the person not wanting to accept the clear message. He deliberately altered the meaning to conform to his doctrinal stance or agenda.
Other Chapters in this Section
PART 1: What is Selective Salvation?
PART 2: What Does the Bible say about Selective Salvation?
What does the Bible Say?
Why, then, do some still Believe in Selective Salvation?
Interpreting the Bible
Does All mean All?
How Could God make it any Clearer?
Does it all Add Up?
Are People Perishing Despite God's Desire for their Salvation?
Why did Jesus Cry out for Their Forgiveness?
What is "Election" and "Predestination?"
Does a Sovereign God do Whatever He Wants?
The Sovereignty of God
Failures of Great Leaders in the Bible
PART 3: Problems with Selective Salvation
PART 4: “Choice” –The Achilles’ Heel of Selective Salvation
PART 5: Difficult Questions Answered
Appendix: Foundational Documents used by Selective Salvationists
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