Wednesday, 4 July 2012

All People can be saved

The statement ‘All people can be saved’ is the second of the ‘Four Alls’ of Methodism. The first all being 'All people need to be saved', the third 'All people can know they are saved' and the fourth  'All people can be saved to the uttermost'. Though Wesley never articulated salvation in this way it encapulates fairly well his thinking on the subject. But before examining the statement, ‘All people can be saved’, I shall briefly look at the Biblical basis for the first ‘All’'.

Christianity on the whole teaches that all people need to be saved, as the scripture states: ‘for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God’ (Rom.3.23).However the question of whether all people can be saved has been a matter of controversy in the Church for hundreds of years, most famously between John Wesley, who followed the teachings of Jacob Arminius who taught that Christ’s death atoned for the sins all humankind, hence all could be saved, and George Whitfield, who followed John Calvin, who taught that Christ’s atoning death was limited to those who had been unconditionally elected and only those could be saved.

There are numerous verses that support the belief that all people can be saved because Christ has paid the price for their sins and that through repentance and putting their faith in Christ they can obtain the free gift of salvation. Those showing that Christ died for the world include that of John 1.29: ‘Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’(also Jn.3.16., Jn.6.51.,2Cor.5.19.) The verses such as 1 Tim.2.4 and 2 Peter 3.9 also make it plain that it is God’s desire that all would be saved and that none would perish. Through the work of God’s prevenient grace in individual lives people can decide either to follow or reject the gospel call. God has not reprobated anyone, as Charles Wesley declared:

‘Come sinners to the gospel feast,
let everyone be Jesu’s guest
There need not one be left behind,
for God has bidden all mankind.’

And Zinzendorf

'Lord, I believe were sinners more
Than sands upon the ocean shore,
Thou hast for all a ransom paid,
For all a full atonement made.'

The onus is then on the Church  to proclaim this message throughout this world, both far and near. In John Wesley’s essay ‘A short method of converting all the Roman Catholics in the kingdom of Ireland’ he challenged the clergy to ‘only live like the apostles, and preach like the apostles, and the thing is done’. As todays world is increasingly becoming more and more a multicultural society we must like Paul be prepared to say ‘ I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some.’ Being open to ‘Fresh expressions’ of Church and have an evangelism that is both incarnational and contextual, as well as being fired with a passion like Paul and Wesley who were prepared :

'I would the precious time redeem
And wholly live for this alone,
To spend, and to be spent, for them
Who have not yet my Saviour known’,
is both the logical and loving response to God’s desire to see our generation came to Christ.


Anonymous said...

I believe this.

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