A Day of Salvation
Many believe that from Adam to the return of Christ is the only time when salvation is offered to humanity and use the following quote from Paul's letter to the Corinthians to support their belief:
"For he says, In an acceptable time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you, Behold now is the acceptable time! Behold now is the day of salvation" (2.Cor.6:2 Para.).
From Paul's statement, it seems that indeed now is the only day of salvation: however, with a small amount of research it can easily be shown Paul did not intend to say that today is the only day of salvation.
SALVATION NOW OR NEVER?
Most of Christianity believes that there are only two categories of people on earth: the saved who are assured heavenly bliss and the lost who are to be tormented forever in an everlasting hell-fire. Is today the only day of salvation? Have God the Father and Jesus Christ been trying to save all of humanity from the time of Adam to this present day?
Many worry that if their loved ones do not accept Christ in this life, they will lose out on salvation. Many grieve over their dead relatives, because they think these loved ones are going to burn in a hell-fire for all of eternity, because they never acknowledged Christ as their Savior.
Billions Have Never Heard
If it were true that this is the only day of salvation, the vast majority of humanity is lost without hope because most of humanity has never heard of Christ or the way to salvation.
Despite the tremendous missionary and evangelistic efforts throughout history, most of humanity has never heard God's true message of salvation. Even in this age just before the return of Christ, many millions and perhaps billions will neither hear nor understand the awesome truth about salvation.
However, this is not 'the' only day of salvation, it is only 'a' day of salvation.
THE ONLY WAY TO OBTAIN SALVATION
"Be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom God raised from the dead, even by him does this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" (Acts 4:10-12 KJV).
The Bible states that the only way to receive salvation is through the Messiah and his sacrifice. However, how will people—past, present, and future—who have never even heard of Christ or his sacrifice obtain salvation?
Does God have another method of salvation which does not involve a person accepting Christ as their savior, repenting of sin, being baptized, and receiving the holy spirit? Is there another method to obtain salvation besides the one clearly specified in the Bible? See Mk.16:16; Lk.13:3; Acts 2:38; 3:19; 17:30; Rom.8:7-18.
The answer is no! There is no alternate method of obtaining salvation to the one clearly stated in the Bible. There is only one method by which one can obtain salvation, and that way is through Jesus Christ. The simple truth is that billions of people have not yet had their opportunity for salvation.
JESUS CAME TO SAVE HUMANITY
Jesus spoke the truth when he said, "For the Son of man [Christ] is come to save that which was lost" (Matt.8:11 KJV; Lk.19:10). The problem is not with what Jesus said, it is with what most think he said. Most believe Jesus meant he came to save all of humanity at that time; however, he did not say this. He only stated this was his reason for coming.
The Parables and Conversion
Many believe the reason Jesus spoke in parables was to make his meaning clear; however, this was not what he said. He said he spoke in parables to conceal information which would lead people to conversion:
"And when he was alone, those around him, with the Twelve, asked him as to the parable. And he said to them, To you has been given to know the mystery of the Kingdom of God. But to these outside, all things are being given in parables, that seeing they may see and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand, least they should be converted, and sins be forgiven to them" (Mk. 4:10-12 Para.). See also Isa.6:8-10; Matt.13:10-15;Lk.8:10; Jn. 12:37-40; Acts 28:25-27.
The word mystery in verse 11 is translated from the Greek word mysterion, which means mystery or secret. Jesus clearly said that those outside of his group were not permitted to understand the secret plan of God which would lead them to salvation.
The apostle Paul spoke to the Colossians about this same mystery and he told them that it was only revealed to the saints:
"Now I rejoice in my sufferings on your behalf, and I fill up in my flesh the things lacking of the afflictions of Christ, on behalf of his body, which is the church; of which I became a minister, according to the administration of God given to me for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery having been hidden from the ages, and from the generations, but is now revealed to his saints [the elect of God]; to whom God desired to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the nations which is Christ in you the hope of glory" (Col.1:24-27 Para.). See Rom.16:25-26; Eph.1:8-9.
WHY THE SECRECY?
But why would this information which leads a person to salvation be kept secret and why is it only revealed to God's elect?
Although the mystery of salvation has been preached since the time of Adam, only a very few have been allowed to understand its secrets, and for very good reasons. God the Father and Jesus Christ love their human creation much more than most people can begin to comprehend. It is this love and concern for each individual that prevents God the Father from offering salvation to all of humanity before the establishment of his kingdom on earth.
God the Father and Jesus Christ want everyone to become a part of the God family; they want everyone to obtain salvation:
"Who will have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of truth" (1.Tim.2:4 KJV).
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2.Pet.3:9 KJV). See also Psa.136:1-26.
This love and concern is the reason that God the Father and Jesus Christ have formulated a plan which will afford each individual the optimum opportunity for success. The Father knows the potential and character of each individual and in which phase of his plan to offer them the opportunity for salvation. In order for each person to have the best possible conditions for success in obtaining salvation, they must be allowed to live in a time and environment in which they can succeed if they so desire.
The Gospel Preached for a Witness
Jesus said the Gospel was to be preached only as a witness; he said nothing about trying to convert all of humanity during this present age:
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations: and then shall the end come" (Matt.24: 14 KJV).
The end spoken of in verse 14, is the end of human rule on this earth. With the end of human rule, begins a New Age in which the Kingdom of God will reign supreme.
Today, many people are called and exposed to the opportunity for salvation, yet those who are called are very few in comparison to the earth's population. Moreover, among those who are called, few are chosen to participate in the first resurrection:
"So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many are called, but few chosen" (Matt.20:16; 22:14 KJV).
The overall plan of God for salvation has not changed from the foundation of the world. Part of this plan and a fundamental teaching in the biblical record is that humans must come into conformity with God's law before being granted salvation.
IS GOD FAIR AND JUST?
Jesus said that a person must obey and practice his heavenly Father's commandments in order to live forever. Moreover a person must also obey and practice the things he taught during his ministry (Matt.19: 16-17; 28:20). But, how can a person obey and practice what they have never heard? Obviously they cannot unless they are taught (Rom.10: 13-15, 17). Therefore, it is logical to ask whether or not God is fair and just in his dealings with humanity?
Many have the impression that God is unfair and that he gets pleasure out of the suffering and death of humans. Nothing could be further from the truth. This misunderstanding comes from a false teaching about God and a lack of knowledge concerning his plan for humanity.
God the Father and his son Jesus Christ are the epitome of love and kindness. They have enormous love for humanity:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that through him it might be saved" (Jn.3:16-17 KJV).
Would God be fair or just if he consigned people to eternal life or death without allowing them the freedom to make this decision for themselves? Of course not! Why would God create beings with the ability to think, reason, and choose, and then not allow them to choose their own destiny? If God wanted automatons, he would have created humans with instinct and predictable responses to stimuli, which is what he did with the rest of his physical creation. But, God does not want automatons in his family. He wants to share eternity with thinking, reasoning beings who have righteous character.
Yes, God Is Fair And Just
"Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair. Hear now, O house of Israel. Is my way not fair? Are your ways not unfair? When a righteous one turns from his righteousness and does injustice, and dies in them; he shall die for his injustice which he has done. And when the wicked turns from his wickedness that he has done, and does justice and righteousness, he shall keep his soul alive. Because he considers and turns from all his transgressions that he has done, surely he shall live; he shall not die. Yet the house of Israel says, The way of the Lord is not fair. Are my ways not fair, O house of Israel? Is it not your ways that are not fair?" (Ezk.18:25-29 Para.).
"Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord, I do not have pleasure in the death of the wicked, except in the wicked turning from his way, and so to live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! For why will you die, O house of Israel? And you, son of man, say to the sons of your people, The righteousness of the righteous shall not deliver him in the day of his trespass. And the evil of the evil; in the day he turns from his wickedness, he shall not fall by it. And the righteous shall not be able to live by it, in the day he sins. Though I say to the righteous, he shall surely live; yet he trusts in his own righteousness, and shall not be remembered. But he shall die for his iniquity which he has done. And though I say to the wicked, you shall surely die; if he turns from his sin and does justice and righteousness; if the wicked returns the pledge; he repays the thing stolen; he walks in the statutes of life, not doing iniquity; he shall not die. All his sins which he has sinned shall not be remembered to him; he has done justice and righteousness; he shall surely live. Yet the sons of your people say, The way of the Lord is not fair. But they, even their way is not fair. When the righteous turns from his righteousness, and does iniquity, he shall even die by them. But if the wicked turns from his wickedness, and does justice and righteousness, he shall live by them. Yet you say, The way of the Lord is not fair. I shall judge you, each man by his ways, O house of Israel" (Ezk.33:11-20 Para.).
God says that he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, because it is his earnest desire for all human beings to have eternal life:
"Cast away your transgressions from you by which you have transgressed in them; and make for yourselves a new heart and a new spirit; for why will you die, O house of Israel? For I do not have pleasure in the death of him who dies, declares the Lord. So turn and live" (Ezk.18:31-32 Para.).
THE GREAT JUDGMENT
"Do not marvel at this: for an hour is coming, in which all those in the tombs will hear his voice, And they will come out, the ones having done good into a resurrection of life; and the ones having practiced evil into a resurrection of judgment" (Jn.5:28-29 KJV).
Many assume this verse shows that there is only one specific time and one specific resurrection in which all of humanity will be judged by God. And because there is a single final judgment, all must have their opportunity for salvation during this lifetime. However, this is not what Jesus said. He said that there will be an appointed time when all those in the grave will be judged for the way they have lived.
Some also assume that because Jesus clearly divides these people into two distinct categories—good and evil—there are only two categories of people who will be resurrected. In the context of John 5:28-29, the English word judgment is translated from the Greek word krisis, which refers to the condemnation of those who habitually practice evil. However, Jesus was speaking to the Jews who were well versed in God's law, which clearly defines the difference between good and evil.
A DAY OF SALVATION
The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when each individual will have their opportunity for salvation, and he referred to it as an acceptable time:
"Thus says the Lord, In an acceptable time have I heard you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you: . . ." (Isa.49:8 KJV).
The English word acceptable is translated from the Hebrew word rason, which basically means pleasure, delight, or favor. It also has the following nuances in meaning: favor or good will of God, delight or acceptance of an individual in a religious sense, and desire, or pleasure in the specific sense of will, as in the will of God.
Isaiah was inspired to use the word rason because it conveys more than just an appointment of time. It also conveys the tremendous depth of God's concern, desire, and pleasure in granting the opportunity of sonship to humanity.
Today is not the only day of salvation. It is 'a' day of salvation for those the Father is calling during this age. See Isa.49:8; 1.Pet.4:17.
An Acceptable Time
"For he says, 'In an acceptable [Greek: dektos] time I heard you, and in a day of salvation I helped you', Behold now is the acceptable [Greek: euprosdektos] time! "Behold now is the [a] day of salvation" (2.Cor.6:2). See also 1.Pet.4:17.
The English word acceptable is translated from the Greek word dektos means of ten or acceptance, and euprosdektos means approved or favorable.
When the proper article in front of the word 'day' is used in the translation of verse 2, its meaning becomes clear. Paul is saying that it is 'a' day of salvation, not 'the' only day of salvation. If the translators of the King James version of the Bible had used the article 'a' instead of 'the' in verse 2, their translation would have been in conformity with Isaiah's original prophecy.
When Paul quoted Isaiah to the Corinthian Church, he did so in order to remind them that this was their opportunity for salvation. It was the time of salvation for the elect of the church at Corinth and others whom God the Father was calling to salvation at that time. It certainly was not the day of salvation for all people.
THE CALL TO SALVATION
An important point to note is that it is God the Father who determines who he will call to salvation during this age.
The Father only calls those he wants to use for a specific purpose in this age:
"No man can come to me, except the Father who has sent me draw him" (Jn.6:44,65 KJV).
Jesus Christ does not determine who is to be called to salvation during this age; only God the Father makes this determination:
"For the promise is to you, and your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Acts 2:39). See also Rom.8:26-30; 1.Cor.1:9,23-28; Eph.1:5-9;2. Tim.1:8-9; 1.Thes.5:23-24; Heb.9:14-15.
"And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved" (Acts 2:47).
The scriptural record of the early church clearly shows a selective calling to the opportunity of salvation. It clearly shows that only those who should be saved are called to salvation. But what about those who were not called in the past, or are not being called at this present time? If this is the only day of salvation as many believe, all of those not called do not have an opportunity for salvation.
In the Book of Revelation, we find the statement, "But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished, this is the first resurrection" (Rev.20:5 KJV). Logic tells us that if there is a first resurrection, there must be a second. A diligent study of the Bible will reveal that there are a number of resurrections of the dead.
In his infinite wisdom, the Eternal God has designed his plan for mankind very carefully in order to give every person an opportunity to have eternal life. The vast majority of people who have lived throughout history have died without hearing or understanding God's plan.
The comforting truth is that the majority of humanity is neither saved nor lost. They simply have not yet been given an opportunity for salvation:
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:22-23 KJV).
The popular belief concerning a single resurrection for all humanity has no merit. The plan of God for the salvation of humanity is far more complex and fair than commonly believed.
God is fair, loving, merciful, and true to his promises. He is not the cruel and merciless monster that so many preachers depict. Because he is a God of love (1.Jn.4:8), he has designed a plan which will give all of humanity an opportunity for salvation. There is no doubt that each person will have an opportunity to obey God's code of righteous conduct. The only question is when each person will be given this opportunity?
The scriptures concerning the requirements for salvation cannot be reconciled with the facts of history or the rest of the Bible if God the Father and Jesus Christ have been trying to save all of humanity from the time of Adam to this present age. But, because God is not trying to do this before the establishment of his kingdom on earth, the scriptures can be understood to mean what they say.
If God were trying to save mankind now, he would save them! God's plan for the salvation of humanity is right on schedule; no human or evil spirit can stop God from fulfilling his purpose for humanity.
God has not been calling all of humanity to salvation because he knows the vast majority would not do what is required to repent and live according to his law. However, he will, at the proper time and during the right sequence of events, present this opportunity to all who have not been called to salvation.
"For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the first-fruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming" (1.Cor.15:22-23 KJV).
Everyone will someday have the opportunity to fulfill this scripture, but not all at the same time. Every individual who has ever lived and died will have that opportunity.
Surprising as it seems, this is not the only day of salvation for humanity, it is only the day of salvation for those called to salvation in this age.
By B.L. Cocherell b7w6