Gospel of John

Universalistic Statements

by Paul Franco on August 23, 2010

There are many Scriptures that directly state or imply for whom Christ died that stress a universal generalization. The point of these universalistic texts is to ensure the readership does NOT limit the death of Christ to an outlook which is smaller than it actually was. Here are various texts which can be included into this discussion, but are not limited to (John 1:29, John 3:16, John 4:42, John 6:33, 51; 1John 2:2; 2 Cor 5:19; 1 Tim 2:6; Heb 2:9) .

It is important to understand how each side in this controversy understands these particularistic and universalistic passages. With no intent to misrepresent either side, I have attempted to demonstrate the meaning that is often unconsciously assumed, depending upon one’s previous religious instruction, when these texts are read.


If the word “world” was always used in one uniform and constant sense in the writings of the apostle John, there would be merit to the observation for universal atonement. However, the apostle John admits a variety of connotations. Therefore, the intention of it in one place cannot be the rule for the interpretation of it in another.

Definitions: 1. The whole universe of created beings Jn 1:10, 2. Sometimes, the inhabitable earth Jn 16:28, 3. Sometimes, the inhabitants of it Jn 1:10, 4. Sometimes, unconverted persons, both elect and reprobate Jn 15:19, 5. Sometimes, the worse part of the world, the wicked Jn 17:9, 6. sometimes, the better part of it, the elect Jn 1:29 and Jn 6:33,51, 7. Sometimes, a number of persons, and that a small one in comparison of the rest of mankind Jn 12:19, 9. sometimes, Gentiles as distinguished from Jews 1Jn 2:2, 10. In one place it is used (3X), and in so many senses, Jn 1:10 He was in the “world” (the inhabitable earth), and the “world” (the whole universe) was made by him, and the “world” (the inhabitants of the earth) knew him not (which is not to be understood as them all), for there were some, though few, who did know Him.

I will venture to affirm that the word “world” is always used in the apostle John’s writing in a restricted and limited sense to mean (for some only), except or unless when it is designed to mean the whole universe or inhabitable earth. There is intent in which to use the word incorrectly, for none will say Christ died for the sun, moon, and stars, for fishes, fowls, sticks, and stones. So it is to be observed that it is never used to signify every individual of mankind that has been, is, or shall be in the world, in which sense it must be proved if it is to be used in this manner and if any argument can be concluded from it in favor of universal or general redemption.



The Lordship of Christ

by Jason Moore on October 22, 2009

This was originally posted in the October 2009 edition of TableTalk magazine, for the 22nd day devotional. Get out your napkins….here comes all meat, no bones. Gospel pwnge 😉

Romans 10:9 “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

If Faith alone justifies us, we must make sure we understand what true faith is, otherwise we may deceive ourselves into thinking that we have faith when in reality we do not. We have seen that our faith is in a person – the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for us to have faith in Jesus, we must know something about Him, believe that He is who He says He is, and trust in Him alone. All of this involves repentance because turning from our sin is the first step we take as we truly rest on Christ alone for salvation (Mark 1:14-15).

Placing our trust in Christ alone involves believing that as our sovereign Lord, He will accomplish all of His promises. We show that we love Him and understand that He alone perfectly knows what is good, right, and true  only if we obey Him (Genesis 2:16-17Genesis 22:1-14; John 14:15; James 2:14-26).

CORAM DEO: Living before the face of God

Far too many in our day have bought into a form of “easy believism” whereby they confess Jesus as savior but do not submit to Him as Lord. True, there is nothing we can do to make God love us, for His fundamental disposition toward those in Christ is already unwavering Love. But it does not follow that we should have no desire to please God. The repentant heart looks to thank the Lord for His favor through love to God and neighbor.

Today’s passage tells us that we must submit to Jesus as the Lord of all things if we are to be saved (Romans 10:9). Recently, however, some have taught that is is possible to be in a state of justification and yet be disobedient to Jesus. They have said that it is possible to receive Jesus as Savior without bowing to Him as Lord. Of course, these teachers have not said that this is the ideal situation, acknowledging that Christians should obey Jesus and manifest the fruit of the Spirit. Yet they have also said that a person can fail to live Christianly throughout the entirety of his life and still be saved. These teachers are attempting to preserve the doctrine of justification by faith alone, and they see any requirement of obedience to Christ as making salvation dependent upon our works.

But all this teaching does is misrepresent the biblical teaching on faith. Indeed, works do not contribute to our justification. Nevertheless, they do demonstrate that justifying faith is present (did you catch that? *jason added). Romans 6:1-4, James 2:14-26, and many other passages, are clear that obedience to Christ as Lord inevitably, necessarily, and immediately follows true faith. Authentic believers want to follow God in order to express how grateful they are for His grace. These good works of obedience in no sense justify us, but if we do not have them, we do not possess the living faith that justifies.

For further study:

1 Samuel 15:22-23
1 Kings 18:20-40
John 3:36
Hebrews 5:7-9

*All content remains the property of Ligonier Ministries…meaning, I didn’t write this! All Glory to our Savior.