GOSPEL #2: SALVATION BY GOD IN EVERYONE: Is everyone a child of God?

Self-ImprovementSpirituality

  • Author James Rondinone
  • Published May 7, 2023
  • Word count 4,057

14

GOSPEL MESSAGE #2: SALVATION BY GOD IN EVERYONE: IS EVERYONE A CHILD OF GOD?

Recently, I had an invitation to attend a church memorial for a good friend of my wife and me, who had passed away about a year ago. Both of us hadn’t only been a friend of hers but also her children. After both of her daughters had left home and moved off of their island residence to various places on the mainland, we took more of an interest in her social needs.

At times, she’d come over to our house for dinner or randomly show up as seemed appropriate. She had a wealth of stories about her life, which she shared from time to time. Even though she was quite a bit older than us, age was never an issue. It was always a pleasure to be in her company.

When it was time for the memorial to begin, one of the pastors walked up to the microphone, introduced himself, and declared to all that being not from the island and having been newly appointed to oversee the church, he didn’t know the person in question. What he did next was ask anyone in attendance if they wanted to come up to the pulpit and share anything that came to mind about this woman. So, one by one, family, friends, and even acquaintances said something about her life.

Aware that all that was needed to be said was said, the pastor approached the microphone and made a comment that took me by surprise. He said that all of us one day would see her again in the by and by because God was in each of us. I’d never heard of any pastor ever saying this before.

Don’t get me wrong, if this was indeed the case, then great. When I die, I’d love to see my parents, grandparents, friends, acquaintances, and for that matter, every person in a better place. But the question is, was this a true statement? Is this another gospel that Scripture accepts? Well, the only way to find out is to see what the Bible has to say about it. If it supports it, great. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. Are you ready to find out? Let’s begin by going to the book of John.

Suggested Reading: John 1:1-10

9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

These verses begin by talking about one of the members of the Trinity, Jesus, who’s referred to as the Word who was with God the Father before creation and who was also God, i.e., God in essence (possessing divine attributes). And there was a man on earth, named John (the Baptist), whose calling was to bear witness of Christ to the Jewish unbelievers that He’s their long-awaited Messiah.

And then Scripture tells us that the true Light (Jesus), lighteth every man that comes into the world. The word true means real. It refers to that which is real or genuine, as opposed to that which [doesn’t] exist or is an imitation of that which is authentic.121 When Jesus came to the earth and eventually proclaimed and evidenced His calling, mission, and ministry, many people enjoyed spiritual illumination. They became aware that something of extraordinary consequence was going on. In that sense, they were enlightened.

Some would argue that the idea of Jesus being the Light that shines forth to every man that comes into the world refers to universal salvation.

Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Scripture clearly tells us that salvation is by grace through faith. It’s an individual decision.

Romans 1:19-20 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

Another explanation of Jesus lighting every person is that it refers to the conscience, of which some refer to as being God’s intimate presence. Creation can bring the conscience of mankind to an awareness of God’s eternal power and Godhead.

However, I think what we conclude is that Jesus being the Light that lights every man that comes into to the world means that by his own personal ministry, and by his Spirit and apostles, [and forthcoming church] light or teaching is afforded to all.122

There’s another interesting perspective as to whether God is in everyone. This one takes us all the way back to the book of Genesis. Let’s go there.

Genesis 2:7

And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

God made Adam’s body from the dust of the ground. I wouldn’t even begin to try to figure that one out. And then it says he breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. The word breath refers to the breath that causes man to live, or in other words, it was the breath from God by His immediate energy, described in the anthropomorphic style, imparted to the newly formed creature that power of breathing which is essential to life,123 which caused Adam to become a living soul (living creature).

Did you know that there’s something else that God did to man when He made him?

Genesis 1:26a

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:…

God made man after His image and likeness. The word image conveys to us the nature of Adam’s soul in that it was not corrupt, and as to its moral disposition, it could be otherwise called original righteousness. The soul of Adam was created in the moral image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and true holiness.124

Genesis 3:8a And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:

After Eve was made from Adam’s rib, we’re told that both of them were placed in a geographical location called the Garden of Eden, where Scripture suggests they communicated with God and subsequently shared in His wisdom, love, truth, etc. Along with this, it was also disclosed that they were made in the likeness of God. This word likeness refers back to the word image and describes it as being a resemblance in any quality, internal or external. So, as Adam and Eve responded to God’s communication inwardly, they revealed His characteristics outwardly in their bodies.

Are there any other verses that give us more insight into man’s nature at the time when he was first created?

Yes, there is. Further information is found in the book of Ecclesiastes.

Ecclesiastes 7:29

Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions.

This verse tells us that God, as the creator of human life, made man upright. The word upright means that he was possessed of [the] ability to choose and follow what was just and right.125 How did Adam know what was just and right? He knew what was just and right because he communicated with the one God who was, is, and always will be just and right in the Garden of Eden.

So, there we have it. Another reason why it’s believed that God is in everyone because many believe that everyone is still being made in His image. Are we? Like we’ll do for every proposed gospel, let’s see if what it contends is true.

We’ll begin by asking this question.

Did man remain upright, or in other words, did he remain made in God’s image?

Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

To answer this, we must go back to the sad story that took place after Adam and Eve were placed in the Garden of Eden, which tells us that both of them were instructed not to eat from one particular tree in the Garden called the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. What we’ve come to learn is that an angel, who we now know was the Devil, was also on the earth at this time in the exact geographical location with the purpose of causing one or both of them to disobey God’s command. Through his cunning, he deceived Eve into eating from this tree. She, in turn, also convinced her husband also to eat from it.

As a result of their disobedience, there was one major impact that would affect all of their descendants. Do you know what this was?

Romans 5:12 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:

By one man, Adam, sin (human depravity) entered into the world. In other words, every human being born after that fateful decision would have a fallen nature passed onto them. Therefore, the uncorrupt moral disposition that characterized Adam and Eve’s original nature became corrupted with a nature that sins.

Genesis 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth:

And thus, mankind was no longer made in God’s image but after the image of Adam, which is a morally depraved image. While his son would be born with the likeness (outward features) of his father and mother, his soul would be subject to moral disorder. And subsequently, a person’s sinful character would be formed and described in the following manner according to Webster’s dictionary. The peculiar qualities, impressed by [the sin] nature or habit on a person, which distinguish him from others; these constitute real character, and the qualities which [he’s] supposed to [possess] constitute his estimated [character] or reputation.126

With that said, some may still argue that every human being is still made in the image of God at birth. There’s another verse that addresses this. Please go to the book of Colossians.

Colossians 3:10

And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:

The words of him that created him are to be taken as an analogy of the spiritual man or born-again Christian to Adam in the Garden of Eden before the fall. As Adam was created in God’s image so the new man, the new creation, the Christian at the new birth, was recreated in God’s image.

So, to say that God initially created mankind in body and soul after His image and likeness is correct. To say that the nature that any person possesses from birth with its sinful propensities and inclinations, after the fall of Adam and Eve, is from God is incorrect. From this, we can conclude that God isn’t in everyone.

What I’d like to do now is leave you with an article that presents a unique explanation as to why one writer believes that all who lived following the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost are included in God’s love and life.

DOES EVERYONE HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT?

By Ted Johnston - December 16, 2012

[updated 5/22/2019]

A key understanding of incarnational Trinitarian theology is that God has included everyone in his love and life through the incarnation, life, death, [resurrection,] and ascension of Jesus and through what Jesus did at Pentecost in pouring out the Holy Spirit on all humanity. Are we then saying that all people have the Holy Spirit? There are several factors at work that I'll briefly address here.

First, [there’s] the nature and the timing of God’s call. Paul writes in Romans 8:30 that, "...those he [God] predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified." Here Paul addresses the broad sweep of salvation history in which he sees all humanity as included in Christ---in what he accomplished for all through his life, death, [resurrection,] and ascension. This is the objective reality of salvation history located in the person and work of Jesus Christ. And what Paul says here is truly stunning good news for all people.

However, as Paul also notes, salvation history has a subjective reality. Through the Holy Spirit, God calls individuals so they might learn of the objective reality of salvation and then receive it personally. In Romans 10, Paul wonders how this personal response can occur if each person does not hear about and then respond to the objective reality of the gospel (Romans 10:9-15).

[It’s] important to note here that [there’s] no meaning to this subjective/personal response, if the objective reality [isn’t] first true (which it is). Moreover, [there’s] no possibility an individual will be able to hear (understand) and thus respond personally to this objective reality if the Holy Spirit [hasn’t] first been poured out on all people as Peter, on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension, declared (Acts 2:14-21). Said another way, every aspect of the objective and subjective reality of our salvation is wrapped up in the person of Jesus Christ by the Holy Spirit.

Because of the objective outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh at Pentecost (a truly revolutionary and stunning new event in salvation history) [it’s] possible from that time forward that, "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Acts 2:14-21). Sometimes people object to seeing this outpouring as meaning that all people from that moment forward "have the Holy Spirit." By that particular [phrase,] they probably mean that all people everywhere are converted to Christ. But that [isn’t] what an incarnational Trinitarian theology declares. Speaking of people as "having the Holy Spirit" typically reflects a reductionist view of salvation that sees it as a mere transaction wherein we give God our repentance and faith and, in return, he gives us the Holy Spirit for the first time (a misunderstanding of Acts 2:38 --for a detailed exegesis of that passage, click here).

The truth of the gospel is that through Jesus' life, death, [resurrection,] and ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, all people everywhere and for all time are, in Christ, included in God's love and life. All are "accepted in the beloved" as Paul says in Ephesians 1:6 (KJV). However, what is objectively true for all in Christ, must personally (subjectively) be received. And thus the ministry of Jesus from his ascension forward is to send the Holy Spirit to "all flesh" in a particular way (Acts 2:17, KJV), in order that those who are ignorant of their true identity in Christ may come to know the glorious truth, hear God's invitation to repent (change their thinking about God and about themselves), believe (accept the truth in faith), then pick up their cross and follow Jesus.

We [wouldn’t] even think about doing any of this unless Jesus had taken upon himself and made in our humanity a "home" for the Spirit and then poured out the Spirit in such a way that he then calls people "out of darkness into his wonderful light" (1 Peter 2:9) into "fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 [Cor.] 1:9). This calling, in Christ, to God (1 [Thess.] 2:12, 1 [Pet.] 5:10 and 2 [Pet.] 1:3) is the work of the Holy Spirit---a work God initiates and accomplishes for us in the vicarious (substitutionary, representative) humanity of Jesus.

Thus, all people are already, in, [by,] and through Christ, called to God in an objective sense. But that call becomes personal in our personal (subjective) experience when the Spirit moves in a particular way in our life. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit comes to us for the first time, but that now he’s working (moving) in us in a particular (often mysterious) way.

Theologians sometimes refer to this new movement of the Spirit as the “personal call” to distinguish it from the “general call” that has gone out to all humanity through the declaration of the gospel (2 [Thess.] 2:14). The Holy Spirit, working sovereignly in people’s minds, turns the general call into a personal call—opening the person’s mind and summoning them to put their trust in God and to follow Jesus. Unless God works in a person’s mind (heart) in this way, [there’s] no possibility of them coming to Jesus (apparently John's point in John 6:44). For an example of this personal call, see Acts 16:14 where God "opened" Lydia's heart "to respond to Paul's message."

When the Holy Spirit moves in a person's mind and heart in this new way, that person is summoned by God to respond individually. God gives them the ability and thus the freedom to respond to his call with either their personal “yes” or their personal “no.” Note, however, that God never forces this personal response, for love never uses coercion as a tactic (and, as [we’re] told in Scripture, "God is love"). Note also that our "yes" to God has no meaning unless God has first said "Yes" to us, and Jesus in his humanity had, on our behalf, already given his "Yes" on behalf of everyone back to God.

In light of this freedom, which God grants, we understand the importance of prayer in personal evangelism. [We’re] called to pray that God will both call a particular person and that their personal response to God will be in the affirmative. Our responsibility then continues in our calling to share the message of the gospel with individuals so that God may use our words as part of both his general and personal call in people's lives.

Note that [it’s] vitally important to see Christ's incarnation, birth, life, death, burial, resurrection, [ascension,] and his sending of the Holy Spirit as one seamless “Christ event” by which God placed humanity on a new footing—removing it from the parentage of the “first Adam” into that of the “second Adam” who is Jesus Christ (see Romans 5). The stunning truth is that through the Christ event, humanity is re-created.

This being so, a more relevant question to ask concerning what happened on the day of Pentecost following Jesus' ascension is this: In what sense was the Holy Spirit poured out on all flesh at Pentecost? First, [it’s] important to understand that this “outpouring” was Jesus' sending of the Holy Spirit to all humanity in a new way (as pertains to the New Covenant). No longer was the Spirit being sent to only a few individuals within the Old Covenant community. From that day forward, the Spirit is being sent to all humanity. This is in accord with the prophecies of the Messianic Age (as Peter shows by citing the prophet Joel).

Of course, the Holy Spirit has been with all people all along in the sense that in the triune God, “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). However, now Jesus is sending the Holy Spirit to humanity in a new, personal way—the personal presence of Jesus himself with all people. Dietrich Bonhoeffer referred to this as Jesus “sharing the place” of all people—this is the nature of humanity now by virtue of what theologians refer to as the "hypostatic union" of God and humanity in the person of Jesus and also involving the outpouring of the Spirit on humanity.

Do all people know of this inclusion of humanity in God's love and life---what Paul refers to as what God has done in Christ to reconcile all people to himself (2 Cor. 5:17-20)? No, our true humanity is now “hidden in Christ” (Colossians 3:3)---[it’s] not seen and thus not experienced by all. Why don’t all (perhaps most) people know this? Because the Spirit has not yet performed the miracle often referred to by theologians as “illumination.” That miracle will come to each person in God’s perfect timing—at just the opportune time for each one.

This timing, of course, is in God’s sovereign hands, and remains a mystery to us. However, what [we’re] to do is no mystery—the Holy Spirit leads us to cooperate with Jesus in what he’s doing through the church, out to the world—declaring the gospel (the truth of people’s true identity in Christ) and then helping people commit their lives to Jesus and then share in his ongoing gospel-shaped work. That work occurs as the Holy Spirit opens people's eyes to see what they had not seen before, then repent, believe, take up their cross, and follow Jesus.127

Acts 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:

I don’t know if you fully understand what was being conveyed by this article. I’m not sure if I do either. But, to the best of my understanding, I believe that the writer was saying that at Pentecost the Spirit was poured out on all flesh or on all the people living at that time and thereafter. What he seems to claim is that every person from that time on is in God’s love and life meaning that they’re in Christ. However, they’re unable to know their true identity in Him until they respond to the gospel of repentance and faith. Along with this, he says that everyone is accepted in Christ, i.e., alleging that each one is a child of God. And I’m assuming that at death, all will go to heaven whether they respond to the gospel of repentance and faith or not.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

However, there’s one thing wrong with this explanation. Scripture tells us that those who don’t repent and believe won’t go to heaven but to a God-forsaken place, which certain verses call hell. Therefore, what has been presented is an incorrect explanation of what the words, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh mean.

I believe that what was these words mean is that during the Church Age, God will use the Spirit to impart a large measure of those influences which it was his special province to communicate to [all] people.128 A part of them were communicated on the day of Pentecost, in the miraculous endowment of the power of speaking foreign languages, in the wisdom of the apostles, and in the conversion of the three thousand.129 And those who eventually respond to the gospel [won’t] only receive the indwelling Spirit but will have the opportunity to receive from Him His influences to renew and sanctify the soul. 130

With all that we’ve learned about this gospel, we can conclude that it isn’t scripturally accurate.

This brings us to take a look at another perspective gospel. It claims that we can work our way to heaven. Can we procure God’s favor by performing good works? Let’s find out.

Endnotes

121UBS New Testament.

122Barnes.

123Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary.

124Adam Clarke's Commentary.

125The Pulpit Commentary.

126American Dictionary of the English Language. 6 October 2021 .

126American Dictionary of the English Language. 6 October 2021 .

127Ted Johnston. “DOES EVERYONE HAVE THE HOLY SPIRIT?” 21 March 2022

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128Barnes.

129Barnes.

130Barnes.

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My name is James Rondinone. I am a husband, father, and spiritual leader.

I grew up in Massachusetts and began my own spiritual journey early on in life.

I attended Bible college, having completed a two-year Christian Leadership Course of Study and graduated as valedictorian (Summa Cum Laude).

Studying and teaching the Word of God has been a passion of mine for over 20 years.

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John
John · 1 year ago
Typical ranting Jesus-freak garbage. Save your preachings for a god-focused site. Nobody cares about your long, boring article about an alien skygod that doesn't exist.

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