DAY OF SALVATION

From the time of Adam to the return of Christ is not the only  time when  salvation is offered to humanity. Many think that this time period is the only period of salvation. To support this false belief, they quote from Paul's letter to the Corinthians:

"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 study it can easily be shown that he 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 loose 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 that 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 that Jesus meant that he came to save all  of humanity at that time; however, he did not say  this.  He only stated that it was his reason for coming.

The Parables and Conversion

Many believe the reason that Jesus spoke in parables was to  make his  meaning clear; however, this was not what he said. He  said that he spoke in parables to conceal information that could  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 that 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; 1.Tim.3:9.

WHY THE SECRECY?

But  why would this information that 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.136:1-16.

This love and concern is the reason that God the Father and  Jesus Christ  have formulated a plan that 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 that is spoken of here 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 on earth with Jesus Christ  as its ruler.

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 is that  humans  must come into conformity with his law. A fundamental teaching of both the Old  and the New Testaments is that one must  obey  his  law  before being granted salvation.

IS GOD FAIR AND JUST?

God  says  that we must understand his way of life and  obey  his instructions  in  order to live forever (Matt.19:16-17;  28:20). But,  how can people understand or obey if they have never  heard the Word  of  God?  It is obvious that  they  cannot  understand unless they are taught (Rom.10:13-15). Therefore, it is logical to ask whether or not God is fair and just in  his  dealings  with humanity?

Somehow, 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  man  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  word  used for 'judgment' is  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 the law of God, 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  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 '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.  

Note:  

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 a 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.

God 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; 1.Thes.5:23-24; 2.Tim.1:8-9; 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.

THE RESURRECTIONS

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. See  our  study  papers concerning the various resurrections.

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  that 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 individual will be  given  this opportunity?

Conclusions

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, file b7w6