Don’t misunderstand the title of this teaching! I don’t presume to have the faintest clue about God’s will for you in the day-to-day events of your life. If I claim I do, that’s presumptuous and foolish of me! In fact, don’t let anyone else ever presume to know what God’s will is for you in the day-to-day events of your life. If they do, they’re a “false prophet,” period! Beware of listening to anyone who claims they can predict or foretell your future!
But I can tell you with absolute certainty what God’s will is for your salvation now, in the eons of time to come, and in the eternal state of being to which we are all journeying. So…read on. What you are about to read for the next few moments might be a very pleasant surprise for you. I promise you it’s not what you might ordinarily expect to read about the subject of God’s will…
Some matters we learn about from the Bible are very clear, specific, and plain—easy to understand. Some matters are not, having to be dug out, comparing reference to reference and digging deep until the matter becomes clear.
It’s Really Quite Simple
One matter that’s simple and easy to understand is God’s will for all people. It couldn’t be any clearer. A Bible reference, 1 Timothy 2: 3-6, plainly states “…God our Savior’s will is that all people be saved and come to know the truth. There is only one God, and only one Reconciler between God and people, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…” To me, that statement seems simple and easily understood, but some people have been attempting to explain it away for centuries because it’s contrary to most “orthodox” and mainstream church thinking.
For example, some people have tried to dilute the word “will” in that statement, translating it as “wish,” so it reads “…God our Savior’s wish is that all people be saved….” They say the Greek word “thelo” from which the word is translated could mean either “wish” or “will.” Let’s give that view the benefit of the doubt. For sake of enlightened debate, let’s say it does mean “wish” instead of “will.” I ask you: “Even if God wishes for something to occur—rather than wills it to occur—won’t God’s wish be fulfilled? After all, he’s the Creator, the All-Powerful God. Whatever he wishes for, He gets!”
So, regardless how the word “thelo” is translated, the end result is the same: God wishes to save everyone—and he will save everyone!—and bring them to his truth. The definition of the word “will” in this reference in Timothy is “God’s strong, fixed, determined, unrelenting, unalterable purposes for every human being.” May I ask this simple question: “If that’s what God’s will means, do you think anything or anyone can stop God from accomplishing it?”
Human Free Will?
Other detractors might say, “Even if it is God’s will for everyone to be saved, humans have free will—so they can thwart or “derail” God’s will.” C’mon now, you don’t really believe that, do you? How can a limited, finite, created human being thwart the will of its unlimited, infinite, All-powerful Creator? People don’t have free will to thwart God’s will as far as their salvation is concerned. Oh, we have free will in the matter of day-to-day life choices and decisions (such as what color toothbrush to purchase), but in such an important matter as our salvation, humans don’t have free will. God does it all for us. Salvation for all people is God’s lavish gift to us!
Yes, people can stubbornly resist God’s will for a time, but in the end his will shall prevail and he will save everyone. You see, our salvation is not based on what we do or don’t do, upon what we believe or don’t believe, upon whether or not we resist God’s will. It’s based entirely upon everything God has already done on our behalf to save us. He’s done it all for us; there’s nothing we can do to change that. From his all-seeing perspective and vantage point of eternity—outside of and beyond the limitations of time and space—God has already saved us. In the vernacular, “It’s a done deal!”
Having said that about the word “will,” let’s examine that statement in Timothy in more detail. First, it states clearly that God’s pre-determined, fixed will is for all people to be saved. It seems to me if God pre-determines something, then it will be accomplished, period! Can any part of God’s vast creation do anything contrary to his will? Not if God really is all-mighty, all-powerful God. Some years ago a book was written titled “Your God Is Too Small.”
If you mistakenly believe God’s will can be thwarted in any manner, then your God is too small. God’s will shall be done–“on earth as it is in heaven,” as God’s people have prayed for centuries. God’s will is for all people to be saved. That will happen, period! I don’t presume to know how or when God will complete working out his purposes to save all people, but it will occur because God has pre-determined it.
The French language contains an expression, “fait accompli,” meaning something is an accomplished fact, something is undeniably completed and put into effect, whether or not one agrees with it. Dear reader, God’s salvation for you—and for everyone everywhere—is fait accompli!
What Does “Saved” Mean?
Next, let’s look at the word “saved” in the statement written in Timothy. Let’s let the Bible be it’s own commentary in defining what it means to be saved. Elsewhere in the Bible we read that the apostle Paul had been imprisoned for his faith in the city of Philippi, when a miraculous earthquake occurred opening all the prison doors. The jailor was so frightened the prisoners might escape he was ready to commit suicide rather than face his anticipated punishment for letting them escape. Paul urged the jailor not to take his own life.
Surprised and grateful, the jailor fell to his knees in front of Paul and pleaded, “What must I do to be saved?!” There’s that word “saved” again. What was Paul’s response to the jailor’s urgent plea about how to be saved? Paul declared, “Believe in the Lord Jesus—entrust yourself to him—and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:25-31)
Being saved means to believe in the Lord Jesus and entrust one’s life to him. It means asking Jesus to take up permanent residence in a person as his “unbodied other self,” in the “unbodied form” of God’s Spirit. The Bible uses other terms to describe the same life-changing phenomenon: be converted, receive Jesus, trust in the Lord, repent, be born again, be regenerated, accept Jesus, follow Jesus, etc. All such terms mean essentially the same thing: entrusting one’s life to Jesus as one’s Savior and Lord for all time and eternity and having him take up permanent residence in that person.
Another biblical reference, Revelation 3:20, sheds more insight into this important salvation phenomenon. In that reference, Jesus is speaking and says: “Look, I am standing at the door of your inner being and knocking. If you hear my voice and open your life to me, I will come in and the two of us will permanently become the closest of friends for all time and eternity.”
Who Paid What?
Let’s return to our reference in Timothy again. It teaches that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all people. What does that mean? Let’s put ourselves in the minds of the first-century readers who read Paul’s letter to Timothy. The concept of paying a ransom was tragically familiar to such readers. In fact, Jesus himself used the term, stating he came to give his life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28; Mark 10:45).
Most first-century readers knew all too well about captives and ransoms. Many people in the world of that day were slaves and captives, enduring horrible bondage and slavery throughout their lifetimes. On occasion, someone might pay a ransom price for a slave, thus setting the slave free. It wasn’t common but it did happen. Yes, the concept of ransom was very clear and understandable in the minds of Paul’s first century readers.
Today we have some familiarity with the concept of ransom, although it’s much more distant from the daily lives of most of us. From time to time we read in the newspapers or see on television news that someone has kidnapped an important person and then demands some sort of monetary payment (ransom) before they will release the person who had been kidnapped. And we know about various types of slavery still practiced throughout our modern world. In fact, there are various organizations working throughout the world to pay ransom in order to free people who have been enslaved. Yes, we know what ransom means.
Jesus paid a ransom to liberate us from slavery to sin. To whom did Jesus pay the ransom? There are differing teachings, but many feel he paid the ransom to Satan who held all people in cruel bondage and slavery to sin. Others feel the ransom was paid to God because all humanity had sinned against him. I’m sure there’s much more to it on a cosmic scale than our finite minds can grasp. Regardless of how and to whom the ransom was paid, Jesus paid it in full and released all people from their captivity to sin and death. His ransom payment saved all people.
How can I make such a statement that his ransom payment saved all people? On one occasion John the Baptizer, pointing to Jesus, proclaimed: “Look, there’s God’s sacrificial lamb who takes away the sin of the entire world!” (John 1:29) Could any proclamation be more clear? Jesus, as God’s sacrificial lamb, by paying the full ransom for all humanity, took away the sin of all people.
He did not take away the sin of just religious people. He did not take away the sin of just good people. He did not take away the sin of only some people. He did not take away the sin of only those who name themselves “Christians.” No! He took away the sin of all people! He took away your sin! If you’re still clinging to your sin, I encourage you to release it to God and let go of it….
Another biblical reference informs us that “He [Jesus] bore all our sins in his own body on the tree….” (1 Peter 2:24) I am not attempting to explain all this means—all this involves—but it seems quite clear to me that when Jesus died on the cross, he died with all our sins heaped on him. And I mean all the sins of all of us.
The horror of the sinless Savior’s death was not simply that he died an ugly, painful, lingering death on a Roman cross at 3 o’clock one afternoon many centuries ago. Thousands of criminals died in that manner in those days; Roman crucifixion was almost commonplace. The true horror of Jesus’ death is that he died carrying the awesome, horrible, incalculable weight of all our sins upon him—yours, mine, everyone’s—the sins of billions and billions of people! Don’t ask me to explain how he did that. But he did.
Suffering under the weight of all our sins is what Jesus meant when he screamed from the cross: “It is finished!!” (John 19:30) Earlier, he had told God in the presence of his followers, “I have completed the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4) What was Jesus saying? “I’ve done it. It’s over. I’ve completely finished paying the total ransom price for the sin of all people. Nothing more can be done. My work on behalf of all people is total and complete. I’ve saved all humanity. It’s over and done, bought and paid for by my shed blood, never to be repeated.” God accepted the ransom payment, and ever since then his mission among all people is telling everyone everywhere the good news of their full, complete, and abundant salvation purchased for them by Jesus!
Reconciliation and Restoration
Still another reference in the Bible furnishes us this startling good news: “God was personally present in Jesus reconciling and restoring everyone to favor with himself, not holding anyone’s sins against them. God has given us—as his ambassadors—this message of reconciliation, declaring to everyone that they have been restored to favor with him. God made Jesus—who was absolutely sinless—to be sin for all people, so that through him God might replace everyone’s sin with his own righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 5: 19-21) Think of it! God not only removed all our sin through Jesus’ death on the cross, he also reconciled everyone to himself—and replaced our sinful natures with his own righteousness! That’s too much for any human mind to grasp, but it’s true!
After his cruel death on the cross, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead three days later, and his ascension back to his Father in the heavenlies was God’s seal of approval—his stamp of acceptance—of Jesus’ work on behalf of all people. Placing his Spirit inside people was God’s additional guarantee or “down payment” that he accepted Jesus’ work as being full, total, and complete on behalf of all humanity. (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:14) Dear reader: it’s done!
It Wasn’t Cheap!
Another response I often receive when I teach this view is people question me asking: “Are you telling me that God is going to arbitrarily save everyone? Are you claiming that everyone who has ever been born—or will be born—will be saved? Are you saying that’s God’s will? Doesn’t that make it too easy—for God just to sort of wave his hand like a magician over the masses of humanity and say to everyone, ‘Okay, now you’re saved’? That’s just cheap salvation for everyone.”
No, no, no! That’s not cheap salvation for everyone! How can a rational person even suggest God’s salvation is cheap and easy when Jesus, God’s dearly beloved Son, paid such a horrible, painful ransom price for our sins? How can a person logically suggest this view weakens and cheapens God’s full salvation for all people!
On the contrary, this view discloses the unimaginable lengths God was willing to go to save all people. He was willing to heap all our horrible, dark sins upon his own beloved Son in order that he could pay the ransom price for them and take away those sins completely and forever. God’s salvation is cheapened only when someone suggests Jesus died for only some, not all. The plain truth is Jesus either died to save all…or his death was tragically ineffective and futile, saving none. He died for all…or he died for none!
Yet another response I often get when I teach this view is: “Well, what if someone doesn’t want to be saved?” My response is the same as my children sometimes gave me when they were young and unthinking: “S-o-o-o,” meaning “So, what does that have to do with anything?” God’s will is for everyone to be saved. So what if someone doesn’t want to be saved? They’ll eventually change their mind and accept God’s salvation. That’s God’s will!
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking mere human beings can thwart God’s will. Yes, they may stubbornly resist it for a time, but in the end they can’t stop God’s will from eventually being completely and totally fulfilled in their lives. If you happen to be resisting God’s salvation, you might as well stop it right now, because eventually—one way or another—you will receive Jesus into your life and accept God’s salvation for you.
The B-I-G Question!
Here—in composite form—is the Big Question that is always asked when people first have this view presented to them: “What about atheists, agnostics, and people who are “anti-Christ”? What about pagans or heathens who have never heard about God’s salvation? What about people who lived many thousands of years ago who never had the opportunity to hear about God and his salvation. What about people who follow or practice other religions? What about the Jews who reject Jesus? What about Hitler?”
Here’s how I always respond to such questions: “1 Timothy 2: 3-6 plainly states ‘…God our Savior’s will is that all people be saved and come to know the truth. There is only one God, and only one Reconciler between God and people, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…'”
In response, some people angrily shout at me: “If God is going to save someone like Hitler, then I want nothing to do with that kind of God!” What is my immediate response to such an outburst? I just say over and over, “1 Timothy 2: 3-6 plainly states ‘…God our Savior’s will is that all people be saved and come to know the truth. There is only one God, and only one Reconciler between God and people, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people…'”
The Bible clearly teaches there will come a point in time when—because Jesus died on the cross for everyone—“all people everywhere will bow their knees before Jesus and with their mouths confess him as Lord and Savior to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2: 8-10). Some might argue, “Sure everyone will do that, but it’s only because God will force most of them to do so.” Not true!
Elsewhere the Bible clearly teaches no person can openly and honestly proclaim Jesus as Lord unless they are influenced to do so by the Spirit of God who lives in them. (1 Corinthians 12:3) Someday every human being who has ever been born will accept God’s salvation and proclaim Jesus as Lord because they willingly choose to do so—encouraged and influenced to do so because God’s Spirit resides permanently in them. And because it’s God’s will!
An Unorthodox Viewpoint
I understand this view is contrary to “orthodox” biblical views of God and salvation. My response is that if you come to understand even in a limited, finite way the true character, nature, and attributes of God—and if you come to understand the Bible’s teachings as a whole—you cannot help but embrace this view. We must see the matter from Almighty God’s eternal, infinite vantage point and from the comprehensive, overall teachings of the Bible.
We must not limit ourselves to our pre-conceived notions, to our extremely limited view from “down here,” to what we’ve been taught and simply accepted as true without examining the “big picture,” and to our finite thinking. The German language contains the word, “Weltanschauung,” meaning one’s comprehensive world view. I am suggesting that if we can understand just a little of God’s Weltanschauung—his comprehensive universal view—we will begin to understand much more clearly how it is God’s will for everyone to be saved…and that everyone will be saved.
God’s will is for all people to be saved—because he loves all people equally. After all, he created all people and he loves what he creates. There is nothing you or I can do to make him love us more. There is nothing you or I can do to make him love us less. His love for us—for you, for me—is all power-full, all-encompassing, all-knowing, all-embracing, all-welcoming, all-drawing, for all time and all eternity! God’s love forgives all. God’s love conquers all. God’s love draws all to himself. God’s love wins all. God’s will flows from God’s love and is one and the same as God’s love.
I’ve been teaching the Bible and related subjects for many years. Recently a friend jokingly asked me if I could summarize everything I believe and teach in 10 words or less. I accepted the challenge; here it is: “God saves everyone. Those who know, tell those who don’t.” That’s why I wrote this teaching. God wants me to tell you this g-r-e-a-t news about your bought-and-paid-for salvation!
Here’s my prayer for you, dear reader: “God, may your sovereign and eternal will be done in the life of the person reading this teaching!”
Revised and Updated February 2023