That Jesus saves is not disputed among true believers. Yet there are those who would suggest that only some will actually be saved (particularism), and others who say that all of humanity eventually will be saved (universalism). In theology, there are three areas in which a decision is needed between these two views. They relate respectively to the range of appeal, the intention and provision of God, and the extent of the actual attainment of salvation.

The Range Of Appeal

It should be abundantly clear that the gospel’s range of appeal is indeed universal. Jesus commissioned his followers to “make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19), to “preach the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15), to preach “repentance and forgiveness of sins to all nations” (Luke 24:47, cf. Mark 13:10). Paul declared that “God commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).

The early church had difficulty accepting this design. Their Jewish background predisposed them to think that in order to be incorporated into the church of Christ one must have first been accepted within the Jewish covenant community. Yet the Book of Acts, especially in chapters 2–15, shows how the Holy Spirit guided the church to receive people of an ever-widening circle as fellow members of the body of Christ. This was anticipated in the miracle of the many languages of Pentecost, but it was articulated in the movement from Hebraic Jews to Grecian Jews (Acts 6 and 7), to Samaritans (Acts 8:1–25), to a proselyte (Acts 8:26–40), to a heathen, Cornelius, to whom God specifically directed Peter to preach (Acts 10 and 11), and to heathens who were approached without a special mandate of God (Acts 11:20–23). ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.