What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 1: Spiritual Life
The purpose of this first monograph is to understand what the scriptures teach about spiritual life, the Greek word zoe. To avoid any confusion, we will first consider bios, psyche, and pneuma, the other Greek words which were sometimes translated as life in the KJV.
Bios means physical life, including all its manifestations, such as manner of living, length, quality, and means of livelihood. Bios is used eleven times in the New Testament, and its derivative, biotikos, is used three times.
In Mark 12:44, Jesus told his disciples that the widow who cast her two mites into the treasury gave,
"all that she had, even all her living (bios)."
Luke 21:4, describing the same event, said,
"she of her penury hath cast in all the living (bios) that she had."
The two mites were her only means of sustenance.
Luke 8:14 talks about the,
"cares and riches and pleasures of this life (bios)."
Luke 8:43 describes the woman who,
"had spent all her living (bios) upon physicians, neither could be healed of any."
In Luke 15:12, the story of the prodigal son, we read that the father,
"divided unto them his living (bios)."
Luke 15.30 says the father rejoiced to see his son return although the son,
"hath devoured thy living (bios) with harlots."
Luke 21:34 warns about becoming encumbered with the
"cares of this life (biotikos).
In Acts 26:4, Paul spoke of his,
"manner of life (bios)."
In I Corinthians 6:3-4 he refers to,
"things that pertain to this life (biotikos),
and talks about judging,
"things pertaining to this life (biotikos)."
In I Timothy 2:2, Paul said to pray for all those in authority,
"that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life (bios)."
In II Timothy 2:4, Paul said that believers should not get entangled with,
"the affairs of this life (bios)."
The other apostles also used bios in referring to the affairs of living. I Peter 4:3 talks about the,
"time past of our life (bios)...when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries."
I John 2:16 says,
"For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (bios), is not of the Father, but is of the world."
I John 3:17 uses bios to include material possessions:
"But whoso hath this world's good (bios), and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
All these scriptures clearly show that bios refers to all the qualities and manifestations of physical life.
The Old Testament word for soul is nephesh, and it first appears in the scriptures in Genesis 1:21:
"And God created great whales, and every living creature (nephesh) that moveth."
Genesis 1:24 says,
"And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature (nephesh) after his kind."
Then, Genesis 2:7 says that God,
"formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul (nephesh)."
Living creature and living soul are the same words, chay nephesh.
Genesis 2:7 calls for a note of caution. The authors of TWOT point out that,
"the substantive must not be taken in the metaphysical, theological sense in which we tend to use the term ‘soul' today. In other words, man is here associated with the other creatures as sharing in the passionate experience of life and is not being defined as distinct from them."
Although men and animals both have souls, there is a difference between men and animals: men have spiritual life, while the animals do not.
With this small sample from the Old Testament, we turn to the New Testament for examples of the word life. The word usually translated as life, psyche, refers to the life of the soul, or soulish life, the life which man has in common with the animals.
Thayer defines the word psyche as,
"vital breath, animal life, self, the soul or seat of the affections, will, etc., a human person."
The soul is associated with physical life, it is what makes the body alive.
Matthew 2:20 refers to natural life, not spiritual life when it says,
"for they are dead which sought the young child's life (psyche)."
Matthew 6:25 says,
"Take no thought for your life (psyche), what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life (psyche) more than meat, and the body than raiment?"
Again, in Matthew 10:39:
"He that findeth his life (psyche) shall lose it: and he that loseth his life (psyche) for my sake shall find it."
Matthew 20:28 says that Jesus came,
"to give his life (psyche) a ransom for many."
He gave his natural life, psyche, which he shared in common with all mankind and animals.
Please note that Jesus gave his soul, psyche, not his spiritual life, zoe. In John 10:11, Jesus said that,
"the good shepherd giveth his life (psyche) for the sheep."
According to the scriptures, men indeed have a soul, but so do the animals. In fact, it is the soul, or psyche, that is the common denominator of both men and animals; both have souls, but only men have spiritual life.
The word, pneuma, spirit, is sometimes translated as life. For instance, Revelation 13:15 says that the second beast has the ability to give life, pneuma, or spirit, to the image of the beast. However, pneuma is normally translated as spirit.
Perhaps the best place to begin the study of spiritual life, zoe, is in Philippians 4:3, which refers to several people,
"whose names are in the book of life (zoe)."
The phrase "book of life" occurs only eight times in the Bible, and seven of them are in Revelation. In addition, there are four instances in the Old Testament that refer to God having a book. [For a detailed study of the book of life, see the study by Merrill Douglass, The Book of Life.]
This book of life has been the subject of many misleading ideas, leading to various concepts only slightly mentioned in the scriptures. Preachers often use the book of life with an emotional appeal such as: "Come on down the aisle and ask Jesus to come into your heart and save you. Then your name will be written in the book of life and you will go to heaven when you die."
There are several things wrong with this. For instance, there is no place in the scriptures where people are told to ask Jesus to come into their heart and save them. Neither is there any place in scripture which says that if they do, their names will then be written in the book of life.
The first mention of God having a book in which names were retained or blotted out, is found in Exodus 32:30-34.
"And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses said unto the people, Ye have sinned a great sin: and now I will go up unto the Lord; peradventure I shall make an atonement for your sin. And Moses returned unto the Lord, and said, Oh, this people have sinned a great sin, and have made them gods of gold. Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. Therefore now go, lead the people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold, mine Angel shall go before thee: nevertheless in the day when I visit I will visit their sin upon them."
There is no mention of when or how names are written in the book, only that God has such a book and that he reserves the right to blot out the names of those who sin against him. Moses evidently knew of this book and probably the enormity of his request, but his love for the Israelites prompted his request to God. This was no soulish, or selfish, prayer.
The next mention of a book is in the messianic Psalm 69:21-28:
"They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap. Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake. Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them. Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents. For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded. Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness. Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous."
In this scripture, a new element has been added. The book has now become the book of the living, or the book of life. David said that those whose names are blotted out will not "come into thy righteousness" which was his way of saying they would not enter the Messianic Kingdom, or the thousand year reign. [For more details on the kingdom of God, see Part I: Monograph No. 7 in our book, What Scripture Says About Salvation.]
The next mention of the book is in Psalms 139:13-16.
"For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother's womb. I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them."
This passage says that God actually foresaw David's embryo while it was still dust and wrote David's name in his book before David was born. Evidently, faith has very little to do with having your name written in God's book. It appears to be another element of God's grace. David certainly claimed no righteousness of his own for his name being in the book, but gave all the credit to God.
Daniel 12:1-3 says,
"And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever."
These verses mention deliverance into the kingdom as a blessing for having your name in the book. When tribulation comes upon the earth, those whose names are in the book will be delivered from that trouble. They will also be resurrected to everlasting life, or the kingdom, or into the righteousness of God.
Another blessing is that those who turn many to righteousness shall shine as the brightness of the firmament. Notice it does not tell us to "save souls," but to turn people to righteousness. Neither does it tell us to have people ask Jesus into their hearts, or to accept him as their savior. It simply says, "to turn people to righteousness," which is the essence of repentance, the same message preached by John the Baptist.
The phrase "book of life" was first used by Paul in Philippians 4:3.
"And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life."
Paul evidently believed that the names of those laboring with him in the gospel were still written in the book of life.
All the other scriptures pertaining to the book of life are in Revelation. The first is Revelation 3:5, where Jesus said,
"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
What a promise! The names of the overcomers will not be blotted out of the book, and Jesus will confess their names before the Father. The word confess comes from exomologesomai, which means to acknowledge that someone is in agreement with you, or someone serves your cause.
This verse states that God can blot a name out of the book of life, which effectively destroys the common doctrine of "eternal security of the believer." This verse clearly says that there is a definite possibility that sin in our lives can result in our names being blotted out of the book.
Notice, too, in Revelation 3:5, that it is Jesus who is in charge of blotting out names. Revelation 13:8 says,
"whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world."
Revelation 17:8 says,
"whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world."
These verses indicate that the names were written in the book of life from the foundation of the earth. It is clear that people's names are not written in the book of life when they, "accept Jesus as their personal savior." Their names were written in the book of life before they were ever born, before the foundation of the world!
Revelation 20:12 is the next scripture in which the book of life is mentioned.
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works."
According to the previous verse (20:11), this is the great white throne judgment. The overcomers mentioned before will rule and reign with Jesus during the 1,000 years. Those who did not enter the kingdom will spend the 1,000 years in outer darkness and, along with those born during the reign of Jesus, will have their works judged at the great white throne judgment.
Overcomers during the 1,000 year reign will not participate in the great white throne judgment as it occurs after the 1,000 year reign (see Revelation 12:4-5). The works of people living now will be judged at the second coming of Jesus. However, non-overcomers will face judgment at the great white throne.
Revelation 20:15 says,
"And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire."
Revelation 21:27 says,
"And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life."
These two verses show the final destination of those whose names are not written in the book of life.
The final mention of the book of life occurs in Revelation 22:19 which indicates the penalty for altering what John wrote.
"And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
To summarize, scripture establishes that,
(1) God has a book;
(2) the book is the book of life;
(3) it contains the names of those who will enter into God's righteousness,
or the kingdom, at the coming of Jesus, the Christ;
(4) the names were written in the book before the foundation of the earth,
before anyone was born;
(5) those whose names are in the book will be delivered into the kingdom
(6) Jesus is in charge of blotting out names;
(7) those whose names are blotted out will wind up in the lake of fire.
A clear understanding about the book of life will provide a solid foundation for the rest of our study.
In Acts 17:28-29, Paul declared,
"For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man's device."
Paul used the word offspring, genos, which means that men are all children begotten of God.
Paul was speaking to the city "wholly given to idolatry" (Acts 17:16). These were not orthodox believers, but still Paul said that they, like him, were begotten of God and, therefore, they are his children, or offspring and family. This is a much broader scope than what most churches teach. Men are exclusive; however, God is inclusive.
Paul declared that all men live and move, and have their being (are) in God. The phrase have their being, comes from esmen, a present indicative participle, indicating a continuing creation by God. In other words, all men live and move and are continuously being created by God. What a beautiful thought!
Some claim that Paul was only using examples from the teachings of those to whom he spoke. However, when read in context, that does not appear to be the case. He was using some of their own poetry to illustrate the point that the same God who created him also created them; therefore, they are all the offspring of God.
In Acts 17:25, he said that God, "giveth to all life (zoe)," which coincides with the statement in verse 17:28.
Not only are all men God's offspring, but the following scriptures also illustrate that all men's spirits are of him, or belong to him. Ecclesiastes 12:7 says,
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Ruwach is the Hebrew word for spirit, not soul. This scripture gives us hope for our spirit and its final home. Our spirit will return to God, no maybe about it. Notice, though, this does not say our soul will return to God.
Job 34:14-15 and 34:19 say,
"If he set his heart upon man, if he gather unto himself his spirit and his breath; All flesh shall perish together, and man shall turn again unto dust. How much less to him that accepteth not the persons of princes, nor regardeth the rich more than the poor? for they all are the work of his hands."
All men's spirits are from God, not just the spirits of believers! This says that if God called every man's spirit to himself, every man would die. Why? Because they all are the work of his hands. Our spirits belong to God.
Numbers 27:16 also bears this out when it says,
"Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh...."
These scriptures clearly dispute the teaching that people receive his spirit when they believe, or when they accept Jesus as their savior, or when they are baptized.
Isaiah 42:5 says,
"He (God) that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein."
Another similar passage is found in Zechariah 12:1:
"The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him."
Job 33:4 says,
"The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life."
Job 32:8 puts this in perspective when it says,
"there is a spirit in man: and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding."
In Jeremiah 1:5, the Lord says,
"Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations."
We are all God's creation, created for his purposes. Unless we rebel against that purpose, God works his purpose in our lives.
For instance, consider the angel's pronouncement about John the Baptist in Luke 1:15:
"For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother's womb."
When Mary came for a visit, Elizabeth, John's mother, said,
"For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy." (Luke 1:44).
John, the Baptist, while still in the womb, leaped with joy when in the presence of Jesus who was still in the womb of Mary, his mother. If nothing else, these scriptures show that men are given the spirit of God, at least in the sense of spiritual life, before they are even aware of it. Either that, or else babes in the womb are aware of much more than anyone realizes.
Acts 17:24-25 relates some of Paul's message when he preached to the Athenians at Mars' hill:
"God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men's hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life (zoe), and breath, and all things."
The word breath comes from pnoen, a derivative of the word pneuma, or spirit. Notice that God gives this to all, not just believers, not just those who have "accepted Jesus as their personal savior." Truly, the spirits of all men belong to God, and when they die their spirits return to him who gave them.
This section of the study will focus on scriptures which show that Jesus died for everyone. The first is Matthew 1:21, which says,
"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins."
This was part of the message Joseph received from the angel before the birth of Jesus.
The question, of course, arises as to just who were "his people?" Does this mean those who believe on him? Is it just the Israelites of his own time here on earth? Or, is there a broader meaning intended? Other scriptures dealing with this subject will provide the answers to these questions.
John 1:29 broadens the view of just who were "his people."
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
The word world comes from kosmos, what we would call the cosmos. This means all sins, for everyone. Too many times this scripture is interpreted to mean that only the sins of believers were taken away, and not those of unbelievers.
Taketh away comes from airon, which means,
"to remove the guilt and punishment of sin by expiation, or to cause that sin be neither imputed not punished" (Thayer, p.17).
John said that sin will be neither charged to man nor punished; that the guilt and punishment had already been removed. Considering this fact, all the preaching to the contrary must be in error. Either John did not know what he was saying, or those who preach that God is now judging your sins, or will judge your sins in the future, do not know what they are talking about!
According to John 1:29, Jesus either bore all the punishment and all the guilt or he only bore part of it. The scriptures say all. If they heard this more often, more people might turn rejoicing to God with a better understanding of what the words "love" and "grace" mean. Instead, many people are mortally afraid of God and his punishment for their sins, or they feel a needless burden of guilt for their sin.
God demonstrated his love and grace to men in the passion of Jesus. It was not a partial fix, but a complete forgiveness of all sins of all men. Nothing any man can say or do will alter this fact one way or the other. Men's sins were all forgiven, not when they ask, or pray, or believe; but when God, before the foundation of the world, gave his son to cover men's penalty (see Romans 5:18 and Ephesians 1:4).
Jesus was the perfect sacrifice to bring about his Father's will. Luke 2:10 says,
"And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people."
Notice, it says all people.
Luke 2:13-14 continues:
"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men."
This settled the judicial aspect of sin, once for all. God will never again act as a judge toward men's sin; he will act only as a Father. Whether we believe this or not does not change the fact of what Jesus did for us, nor will it change the manner in which God regards us.
John 3:17 says,
"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."
The words might be saved, come from soothe (aorist subjunctive passive), which means that the world absolutely will be saved. The word might, in this case, does not mean maybe, as it often does in English.
Notice, too, that in these scriptures God is not dealing with any man on an individual basis, but is dealing with the whole world, or all men, on a corporate basis.
In John 4:42, the Samaritan men told the woman at the well,
"Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world."
Men may believe individually, but God saved them as a group. Salvation is not because we believe, but because God loves us.
John 6:51, in telling what this salvation of the world entails, gives another element of salvation:
"I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life (zoe) of the world."
Spiritual life, zoe, for all those in the world has been bought by the sacrifice of Jesus because of God's love for all mankind.
I John 2:2 says that Jesus,
"is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world."
Jesus was the satisfaction for our sins, and it was done for us, not for God. Many believe the holiness of God required a sacrifice for sins, but that wasn't it at all. Jesus' sacrifice was done for us, that we might have
"no more conscience of sins." (Hebrews 10:2).
The next verses, written by John, confirm that God expended his judgment on Jesus. John 5:22-27 says,
"For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man."
For those who believe that Jesus is the same as God, this passage is reduced to meaningless nonsense. Some maintain that judgment was only shifted from God's right hand to his left hand, so to speak, and that God is still doing the judging. However, that is in direct opposition to the plain teaching of this scripture.
The doctrine of the trinity which claims that Jesus is God complicates the easy understanding of this scripture. The trinity is not, and never has been, a scriptural doctrine. It was only a theory developed by some men to supposedly help explain the complexities of God to men even more ignorant than themselves. God is not now judging any man, but has given life, zoe, to every man. [For a detailed study on the trinity, see Monographs 10-14 in this study.]
Paul also spoke about zoe, spiritual life, and said that the death of Jesus, the Christ, was for all men. Romans 5:6 says,
"For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly."
Notice it says the ungodly, not just believers.
Romans 5:8 says,
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:12 says,
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned."
Romans 5:18 says,
"Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life."
It is not unusual to hear that all men were condemned because of Adam's sin, but it is very unusual to hear that all men received the free gift of life because Jesus died. Most seem to agree about Adam, but have difficulty agreeing about the part Jesus played in regard to all men. If the sin of Adam brought condemnation to all men without their participation, then it is only logical to say that the righteousness of Jesus accomplished redemption for all men without their participation.
Paul reiterated this same theme in II Corinthians 5:14-21.
"For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him."
The words might be made, ginometha (aorist subjunctive middle deponent), which means that men will become righteous. This does not mean maybe, as the English would indicate. Being a middle deponent means that men participate in the end results, the righteousness.
Hebrews 2:9 says that,
"we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."
Every man comes from pantos, which could also be translated as "every thing." Apparently the results of Jesus' death affected more than just men. This alternate translation might also help explain Romans 8:18-23.
"For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body."
Jesus evidently died to redeem all of creation, not just men only. In that case, would the other parts of creation have to believe in order to be redeemed, as some teach that men must do?
I Timothy 2:5-6 says,
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
Again, the word all comes from pantos, which may also be translated as every. No word follows pantos, so the translator must supply what the all, or every, means. Is it all men or all creation that Paul is talking about? Whether men or creation, Jesus is a ransom for "all," not just for those who believe.
I Corinthians 15:45 says,
"And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit."
The last Adam, or Jesus, was made a zoe kind of spirit, or life giving spirit. Just as men received soulish life from the first Adam, so have men received spiritual life from the last Adam, Jesus.
In Romans 11:15, Paul explained the meaning of Israel's fall in relation to the Gentiles and God's purpose in allowing it to happen:
"For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?"
Notice that Paul said that through Israel and its failure to believe that Jesus was messiah, the world was reconciled to God.
The word reconcile means to receive one into favor. The whole world was received into favor through the fall of the Israelites because God then turned to the Gentiles to get a name (people) for himself. The basis for God reconciling the world to himself was his love, as demonstrated by the death of his son, Jesus.
Paul was not talking about whether or not the Israelites would go to hell, but whether they would lose their inheritance in the next age, the kingdom of God, or the kingdom of heaven. When Paul spoke of people being lost, or out of the way, he did not mean they were condemned to hell. He simply meant they would not spend the next age reigning with Jesus, but would spend it in outer darkness instead.
On the other hand, when Paul spoke of people being saved, it was always in relationship to entering the kingdom. "Going to heaven" was not part of his vocabulary. To him, salvation meant entering the next age, the kingdom of God, in a place of blessing with Jesus.
In Colossians 1:5, Paul told about the hope which is in the gospel or the truth of the gospel, not just any gospel.
"For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth."
Much that is called the gospel today is not what the Bible calls the gospel. Paul referred to the hope laid up in heaven as something that is the truth of the gospel, something they heard about. The hope was not created because they believed it. It was something done by God and made a part of the good news. It was there to be heard by everyone. Its purpose was, and still is, to bring forth fruit in those who hear and come to understand the grace of God.
Notice, too, that hope does not come by the works of men, but by the grace of God, which is an unmerited favor, or something given to those who are undeserving.
Why do not preachers simply tell people about the salvation God has already provided? Why do they insist on telling people what they must do to be saved, or go to heaven? If people must do something (accept, believe, ask forgiveness, etc), then they are under law again.
When asked, "How do you know you are saved?" most people talk about what they did: believed, were baptized, were confirmed, received the holy spirit, experienced the second blessing (as if there were only two), gave their hearts to Jesus, confessed their sins, or whatever else any specific denomination may require.
One of the more insidious aspects of organized religion is in convincing men that they must become deserving of this grace by what they do, or do not do. Grace is not only unmerited, it demands nothing in return. It does not even include the words, "Now that you are a Christian, you must do...."
Look carefully at what Paul said in Colossians 1:20-22.
"And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard."
Paul never left the concept of grace, but went on to say that all things, both those on earth and those in heaven, were reconciled to God by the blood of the cross. He told the Colossians that they were included in the results of Jesus' death.
As for the part faith plays, Paul said that if they continued believing the good news and were not moved away from it, they would be presented holy and unblameable and unimpeachable before him. A little study will show that this presentation will be at the return of Jesus, the messiah.
Faith retains, or keeps, what God has given to all men by grace, but faith never creates it. God is not changed when you believe; you are. Colossians 1:27-28 says,
"To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus."
Faith only unlocks the power of holy spirit which is already among you (en humen). When Jesus lives and works in you through the power of holy spirit it is his works, done through you, that make you pleasing to God. That was what Paul meant when he said,
"Christ is all (things) and in all." (Colossians 3:11).
I Timothy 4:8 says,
"godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come." I Timothy 4:10 says, "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men."
Note this carefully! God saves (preserves) all men, not just believers. Paul also brought out again the hope of zoe which "now is, and...is to come." At this time, men have only an earnest, or a down-payment, of the fullness yet to come.
Titus 2:11-14 says,
"For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works."
This scripture shows that God expects those who believe the gospel to change the way they live. It says nothing at all about God changing towards people when they become believers, or of doing anything for them that he has not already done. The gift of Jesus was for the salvation of all mankind.
Just in case people got the idea that their faith had saved them, Paul wrote the following in Ephesians 1:3-7:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace."
This is the good news! Before the foundation of the world, God chose everyone to be adopted through Jesus. Paul wanted them to understand what God had already done for them, that their salvation was of God.
Everything necessary for salvation was accomplished before the foundation of the world, which was a long time before anyone ever believed. We were chosen in him, and this was done at the good pleasure of his will, that men might give praise to the glory of his grace. Men's sins were remitted by his grace. Truly men do have zoe, spiritual life, by the grace of God.
John 1:4 puts it this way:
"In him (Jesus) was life (zoe); and the life (zoe) was the light of men."
John 1:9 adds,
"That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world."
In the Greek, a definite article "the" before a subject and a predicate noun (the life was the light of men) means they are reversible quantities. This means that we could say just as truthfully that "the light of men was the life."
Because this is true, then every man was not only given light when he entered the world, but that light was also spiritual life (zoe). We begin to appreciate and experience the spiritual life when we believe, but we have had it ever since we came into the world. Our belief did not create it.
In light of the foregoing scriptures, the following two conclusions are valid. First, we either believe what God has already done, or we believe that God does something when we believe. The first case is the work of God through Christ. The second case is a synergistic type of salvation which demands that we do something, which becomes the basis of all denominationalism.
Second, people become lost, or out of the way, when they rebel against God who has already saved them. We become lost by choice, not saved by choice. Truly, salvation, which is life, zoe, is of God.
# Bios refers to all the qualities and manifestations of physical life.
# Zoe refers to spiritual life.
# Psyche refers to the life of the soul, or soulish life, the life which man has
in common with the animals.
# Both men and animals have a soul. The soul is what makes the body
# Only men have both physical and spiritual life.
# Scripture establishes that, (1) God has a book; (2) the book is the book
of life; (3) it contains the names of those who will enter into God's
righteousness, or the kingdom, at the coming of Jesus, the Christ; (4) the
names were written in the book before the foundation of the earth; (5)
those whose names are in the book will be delivered into the kingdom
of God; (6) Jesus is in charge of blotting out names; (7) those whose
names are blotted out will enter the next age in outer darkness.
# Our names were written in God's book of life before the world was
formed, and unless our names are blotted out, we will enter the
# Our spirits return to God when we die; our souls do not return to God.
# All men's spirits are from God, not just the spirits of believers.
# Unless we rebel, God works His purpose in our lives.
# Our sins were all forgiven, not when we ask, or pray, or believe; but
when God, before the foundation of the world, gave his son to cover
# God saved everyone corporately, all at one time; however, we believe,
or come to faith, individually.
# Salvation is not because we believe, but because God loves us.
# God's holiness did not require a sacrifice for sin. Jesus' sacrifice was
done for us, that we might have "no more conscience of sins."
# The sin of Adam brought condemnation to all men without their
# The sacrifice of Jesus brought redemption to all men without their
# Jesus died to redeem all of creation, not just men only.
# Jesus was a ransom for "all," not just for those who believe.
# Just as men received soulish life from the first Adam, so have men
received spiritual life from the last Adam, Jesus.
# Being lost, or out of the way, does not mean being condemned to hell.
It means that such people will not spend the next age reigning with
Jesus, but will spend it in outer darkness instead. Outer darkness
means not being able to enter the kingdom.
# Salvation means entering the next age, the kingdom of God, in a place
of blessing with Jesus.
# One of the insidious aspects of organized religion is in convincing men
that they must become deserving of God's grace by what they do, or
do not do.
# If we continue believing the good news, we will be presented holy and
unblameable and unimpeachable before Jesus when he returns.
# Faith retains, or keeps, what God has given to all men by grace, but
faith never creates it. God is not changed when you believe; you are.
# Faith only unlocks the power of holy spirit which is already among
# At this time, we have only an earnest, or a down-payment, of the
fullness yet to come.
# God expects those who believe the gospel to change the way they live.
# Scripture says nothing at all about God changing towards people when
they become believers, or doing anything for them that he has not
already done for everyone.
# Before the foundation of the world, God chose everyone to be adopted
# Every man was not only given light when he entered the world, but
that light was also spiritual life (zoe).
# We either believe what God has already done, or we believe that God
does something when we believe.
People become lost, or out of
the way, when they rebel against God
we become lost by
choice, not saved by choice.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.