Will all mankind eventually be saved? (Isn't election unjust?)

Question
Will all mankind eventually be saved? (Isn't election unjust?)
Answer

No. Only the elect will be saved and others will be eternally lost. As Jesus states, "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it" (Matt. 7:13-14).

This can be a difficult issue for some to understand. So, this answer will be in simple terms a basic understanding with biblical references.

First, one must realize that God is not only 100% love (John 3:16), but 100% judge (John 3:18) as well. God is holy. As such, He may not deny His nature so, He must judge sin which all men have partaken of (Rom. 3:23). He is the JUDGE (Ps. 9:7; 50:3-6; 96:13; Luke 12:2-5; Acts 10:42; 2 Pet. 2:4-9; Rev. 20:11-15) and He judges righteously (Gen. 18:25).

Second, God is a King over His Kingdom (Ps. 29:10; 103:19; Rev.19:16). He is Sovereign (Is. 45:9; Dan. 4:28-37; Rom.9:20-21). As such, He rules His Kingdom according to His rules and nature. His Kingdom shall ultimately stand.

Third, election is a biblical doctrine (Eph. 1:4-5, 11, etc.) of God's Kingdom. It is the only door to enter His Kingdom (John 10:1-18). Only the elect will hear the voice of the Great Shepherd and follow His voice (John 10:3-8, 14, 16).

How does this work?

God created man in His own image (Gen. 1:27). Adam and Eve, two elect creations, were told to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 1:28). Therefore, we understand that the universe was designed for those made in God's image. It was meant for the "seed" of the elect. See Matthew 13:24-30. Though we are living in a momentary pause of seeing this fully realized, ultimately, at the consummation of all things, the new heavens and new earth will be populated by only the elect (Rev. 21). God's plan of Genesis 1 will ultimately be fully realized - only the elect will fill the earth.

However, there was a pause placed within God's plan. Adam and Eve fell into sin (Gen. 3:1-6). When they fell, Eve became the mother of ALL living (Gen. 3:20). She would bare the "seed" of the woman and the "seed" of the serpent (Gen. 3:15; 4:1-2, etc.). The seed of the elect and non-elect would come forth from Eve. Within the womb, the tares would be mixed with the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30). Ultimately, they shall be separated, but during this pause, they dwell together.

Why this pause? One reason for this momentary pause is so the children of God - those whom He called in Adam and Eve before the Fall - can understand His love for them more fully. Adam and Eve knew "of" God's love, but had not fully "experienced" it. What is the greatest way to experience God's love? The Scripture says, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). God says to more fully experience His love someone MUST DIE! Therefore, for God's elect to fully experience His love Christ had to die. However, Christ could not die without the introduction of sin. Therefore, within the plan of God, God allowed sin as a possibility, while not being its author.

Another reason (and there are more) for this momentary pause, is so that God could destroy the devil and his seed (1 John 3:18), thus revealing more fully God's holy nature. As Christ says, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it" (John 8:44). God will be seen in the end as justified in every action He ever took (Rom. 1:32-2:11), including His eternal judgment of the devil and his seed (the non-elect). The non-elect are the enemy of God. They are intruders onto God's earth. They are invaders that have pitted their kingdom against God's (Matt. 12:26; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; 2 Cor. 4:4; Eph. 6:11-12). As enemies they are hated by God (Rom. 9:10-13). As such, they are judged already (John 3:18, 36). As such, they deserve to be judged (Lam. 3:39; Jer. 21:14; Jude 1:5-16). They are worthy of God's eternal wrath (Deut. 32:39-41; Zeph. 2:3; Rom. 1:18). They deserve to be destroyed (Nah. 1:2-8; Zep. 1:2-6; 3:6-10) for eternity.

However, while upon this earth, God does not fail to show His love to all men as "He makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good" (Matt. 5:45; Acts 14:17 and other forms of Common Grace). There are riches of divine kindness which beckon all men to entrust their souls to the faithful Creator (Rom 2:4). God is merciful to all (common grace) - especially the elect (1 Tim. 4:10). So, all are without excuse (Rom. 1:20). However, though God is generous and loving and gives grace when it is not due, ultimately God will judge His enemies, fully and finally (Rev. 20:7-15 the consummation of judgment). Jesus has already triumphed over them upon the Cross (Col. 2:15 the incarnation of judgment). The one who walks after his own will and obeys not the gospel of Christ "shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power" (2 Thess. 1:8-9). God's wrath is justified and warranted towards the non-elect His enemies the "seed" of the serpent. God's justice is holy and sure. "It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb. 10:31).

The elect's sin must be dealt with as well. God cannot deny His holy nature (Psa. 5:5; 7:11; Rom. 1:18) and thus His wrath against even their sin must be satisfied. Therefore, within God's plan, the wrath of God was poured out upon Christ upon the Cross (1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18) for the elect. Christ is the elect's sinless substitute (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13). Christ is the elect's burden bearer (Rom. 3:34; 5:6, 8; 1 John 4:10). Christ bore an eternity of suffering for His own people in a short space upon the Cross (Isa. 53). Christ suffered hell upon the Cross-for His Church (Eph. 5:25), His sheep (John 10:11, 15), the ones God hath given Him (John 17:9, 11, 24; Heb. 2:13) from the beginning (Eph. 1:3-14).

"Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon" (Isa. 55:6-7).

So God is not unjust. God properly passed by the seed of the serpent and actively hardens even their hearts (Matt. 13:11-17; cf. Matt. 11:20-24; Pharaoh - see Rom. 9:17-18; cf. Exod 7:3-4, 13, 22; 8:19; 9:12; 10:20, 27, etc.). He gave them over to their own leader (John 8:44), to their own lusts, etc. Election is only for the seed of the woman - Christ's seed. Election is not unjust, but an exhibition of a loving God in mercy and grace!

Related Links:

Do human beings have free-will?
Matthew 13 and Election
How is God just, if ...?
Does God Use Evil to Accomplish His Purposes?

Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (IIIM).