Summary: Will God save everyone? Just what is the zeal of God for His people?
Will God save everyone?
Others believe and teach that everyone will be saved. They argue that those who reject God during this present age would choose to follow God in the next life. Surely, it could appeal in our human heart, but where do we find such kind of teaching in God’s Word?
Rather, this is what we read in Isaiah 26:10-11 --
“Though grace is shown to the wicked,
they do not learn righteousness;
even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil
and regard not the majesty of the LORD.
O LORD, your hand is lifted high,
but they do not see it.
Let them see your zeal for your people and be put to shame;
let the fire reserved for your enemies consume them” (NIV).
Not all who have been shown the saving grace of God would learn righteousness. There are those living in this age of corruption, or would be placed “even in a land of uprightness” who would still choose to do evil and would not regard “the majesty of the Lord.”
Why? Is it because they just choose to do evil and choose to “regard not the majesty of the Lord”?
First, notice also in the above passage that “your people” is mentioned. They are God’s people. They see and appreciate the grace of God. They are able to learn righteousness. They regard the majesty of the Lord. And the writer was telling God to let the wicked see God’s zeal for His people.
Just what is this zeal of God for His people?
And did His people just choose to learn righteousness? Did they just choose to regard the majesty of the Lord? Were they able to desire and do the right way, because they are not like the rest – wicked?
As one of the leaders of the denomination I was a member before told me:
“…I presume you have been called by God and you accepted his gift of grace in worshipful gratitude for his mercy. You are allowing the Holy Spirit to transform you into the image of Christ, and for this you are supremely grateful. You do not resist the Spirit and follow him eagerly as he leads you daily…”
Besides, we read in the last part of verse 9 of Isaiah 26, “When your judgments come upon the earth, the people of the world learn righteousness.” So, is it right to conclude that there are people who would choose to learn righteousness in their own desire alone, when God’s judgment would come upon the earth?
Could I really claim that I am different from the rest? That though I am spiritually blind, yet I am able to accept God’s gift “in worshipful gratitude”? That by my own human will, I can allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into the image of Christ? And though the Bible says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9), I would not resist the Spirit and “follow him eagerly”?
Of course, the word “people” in Isaiah 26:9 who would learn righteousness does not refer to everyone in the world, for in the next verse it says, “Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness…”
But those who are able to learn righteousness, who regard the majesty of the Lord, who are able to walk in the way of God’s laws and who wait and desire for Him (verses 8 & 9) have acknowledged that what they did are not just the product of their “worshipful” attitude, or “eagerness”, or “gratitude,” or human will!
We read in Isaiah 26:12, “LORD, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us.”
Rather than to agree with the church leader, I would prefer to believe that I was able to learn righteousness, to regard the majesty of the Lord, to receive the gift of God, or to allow the Holy Spirit to transform me into the image of Christ – because God had enabled me, or everything I did that merits in God’s eyes, He had done for me.
It’s also helpful to remember the following words of God in Ezekiel 36:26-27, though others do not believe that it could apply even to the non-Jews:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”
Without God’s enabling power, we would be just like the rest. “All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).