Look to Me, and be saved, All the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.
Gospel For All exists to promote the key biblical and historical truth that the love and grace of God in Christ, particularly with regard to salvation, is for all people throughout all time. The purpose of the gospel is to reconcile & reunite firstly mankind to God and then to each other. By this we mean that not only has provision been made through Christ’s atonement for every human being but that God has not pre-determined the eternal destination of those who do not respond to the gospel and that God genuinely wants for every person to be saved.
Although we recognise that there have been differing views amongst Christians on this area of theology for centuries, it is our aim to promote a biblical view of God and His gospel so that Christians can have confidence that the Gospel is for All and will seek to share it with all. We intend on doing this by seeking to robustly and coherently teach a biblical theology. We produce resources and link to articles and media and run conferences. We have generous approach to those who differ and seek not to be overly theologically narrow. We are happy to dialogue with those who think differently in the form of respectful discussion and debate.
Why does all this matter?
Is this all an over reaction? Isn’t this a secondary issue that can just be put to one side? Aren’t you just being unnecessarily divisive? These are entirely legitimate questions when any controversial issue is raised in the church. The issue of determinism is no different. Does it really matter if God predetermined which individuals would be saved and which lost? Why make such a big deal over ones view of whether God’s salvation love really extends to all or just a select few? Can’t we just agree to disagree and get on with the work of the kingdom? There are a number of problems with that idea, attractive as it may sound.
First, this issue impacts on your view of the Character of God, and that surely matters.
What does it really mean when we say God is holy, just, sovereign or love? All of these essential characteristics of God are fundamentally affected by your view on determinism.
If you believe as some do, that God’s sovereignty means He determines every event and action both in the natural and spiritual world, then you have also to say that he is ultimately the author of evil and sin. John Piper puts this very starkly in one of his books
“God . . . brings about all things in accordance with his will. In other words, it isn’t just that God manages to turn the evil aspects of our world to good for those who love him; it is rather that he himself brings about these evil aspects for his glory (see Ex. 9:13-16; John 9:3) and his people’s good (see Heb. 12:3-11; James 1:2-4). This includes—as incredible and as unacceptable as it may currently seem—God’s having even brought about the Nazis’ brutality at Birkenau and Auschwitz as well as the terrible killings of Dennis Rader and even the sexual abuse of a young child…” John Piper.
What does that mean for your view of God’s Holiness and Justice?
If you believe that God predetermined before the creation of the world which individuals would be saved and which would be lost, you cannot truly say God really loves all people alike? What does that mean for our understanding of texts such as John 3:16. Determinist theologians are very clear as to the implications of such a view of salvation.
‘All are not created on equal terms, but some are preordained to eternal life, others to eternal damnation; and accordingly, as each has been created for one or other of these ends, we say that he has been predestined to life or to death.’ John Calvin
‘We deny that all mankind are the objects of that love of God which moved Him to send His son to die’. ‘The fountain and cause of God’s sending Christ is His eternal love to his elect, and to them alone’. John Owen
Secondly, your views on this issue affect your understanding and therefore your proclamation of the Gospel, which again is surely of importance.
If you believe that it was only ever God’s intention to save a select few that He has chosen, you cannot truly say the message of salvation through the cross is good news for all people. It is great news for those God chose, but certainly not for those He chose to overlook. Actually you cannot truly say to any unconverted person God desires your salvation, because you don’t know at that point if He even chose them to be saved. You also cannot say Christ died to save you, as again you don’t know if it was ever God’s intention that His work on the cross was for that specific purpose. The gospel appeal can only ever be made in general non specific way as you cannot be sure God is calling that individual to be saved.
Thirdly your views on these issues affect your motivation for evangelism.
The school of theology that says nothing can alter the eternal destiny of the elect or the non-elect, in other words, those who are elect will never be lost and those who are not elect can never be saved, is in real danger of removing any sense of passion and urgency from mission. If we don’t truly believe God loves the whole world in a way that has everyone’s eternal need at its heart, why would we? If we don’t believe Christ laid down his life for the salvation of the whole world, why would we? If we don’t believe that our work in evangelism makes any difference to who will be lost or saved,will that not affect our urgency in this work?
In the past the call to urgent and sacrificial mission was driven by a belief in the love of God for all the lost. Men like Hudson Taylor or women like Amy Carmichael challenged the church to save the perishing before it was too late. The reality of hell and a lost eternity facing men and women was always a big part of the clarion call to missions. However a determinist theology undercuts all of that challenge. Evangelism in effect becomes looking for the elect rather than seeking the lost.
These issues matter. They strike at the very heart of our understanding of who God is, what the gospel is and why we should take it to the world with passion and urgency.