Volume. XXVIII, No. 51
Sunday, 22 June 2014

How Many Will Be Saved ?

What do you think of when you read in Revelation 5:9 that there will be people saved from every people group, tribe, language and ethnicity? For me, I am truly excited when I read that information. Jesus died for the salvation of people, a vast number of people, as described in those chapters of Revelation. But that leads to a follow-up question: How many of the total human population of the earth, in all times and places, will be saved? We are left with two ultimate positions: 1. Every person in history will be saved. That is called universalism. 2. Not every person in history is going to be saved. That is called particularism.

When Jesus died on the cross, did He actually secure the transaction of salvation for anyone, everyone, no one, or some specific persons.? This has been a continuing debate in the history of the church and the debate probably will not be concluded any time soon. What does the Bible teach on this important subject?

These questions bring us to the second of the Five Points of Calvinism: “Limited Atonement.” Again, remember that this is the response given to the third of “the five points” of Arminianism. Below I have posted the summary of the two positions on the atonement.

Universal Redemption or General Atonement

Christ’s redeeming work made it possible for everyone to be saved but did not actually secure the salvation of anyone. Although Christ died for all men and for every man, only those who believe on Him are saved. His death enabled God to pardon sinners on the condition that they believe, but it did not actually put away anyone’s sins. Christ’s redemption becomes effective only if man chooses to accept it.

Particular Redemption or Limited Atonement

Christ’s redeeming work was intended to save the elect only and actually secured salvation for them. His death was a substitutionary endurance of the penalty of sin in the place of certain specified sinners. In addition to putting away the sins of His people, Christ’s redemption secured everything necessary for their salvation, including faith which unites them to Him. The gift of faith is infallibly applied by the Spirit to all for whom Christ died, therefore guaranteeing their salvation.

(Source: Graceonline.org)

Both Calvinists and Arminians who profess loyalty to the Bible, reject the position of Universalism. Both sides affirm that some will be saved, though others will be eternally lost. For example, in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus taught: “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: Depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” (Matt. 7:22-23). In Matthew 10:28 He instructed His disciples: “And fear not them which kill the body but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” In the concluding chapters of Revelation we read: “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire,” (Rev. 20:14-15); “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death,” (Rev. 21:8).

Both sides affirm the statement: The atonement is sufficient for all, but efficient for the elect. The Gospel invitation is to be extended to all people from every kindred, tribe, tongue, and nation. But the Arminian believes that only the person who chooses Christ will be saved. There was no one explicitly paid for as distinct from those not paid for. Salvation is possible, but not certain for anyone, even from God’s vantage point, until that person chooses Christ.

Only then does the atoning work of Christ provide any help for assuring salvation to any degree for an individual.

By contrast, the Calvinist contends that through the obedient life and the atoning death of Jesus, the payment was made to God for the penalty of human rebellion. That payment is only applied to those who have been chosen before the foundation of the world (the elect). Their salvation is secured for all eternity because Jesus paid the full price in their behalf. They cite passages like John 17 where Jesus, in His great prayer on the night of His betrayal, spoke in definite terms: As thou has given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him, (v. 2). I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou has given me; for they are thine, (v. 9) (John 17). Jesus speaks of explicit persons who have been given to Him by the Father for eternal salvation. Also, many appeal to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: 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... (Eph. 1:4-5). Note that Paul speaks of a transaction having taken place before the foundation of the world. That means it was decided in eternity past before the beginning point of the universe stated in Genesis 1:1. But why is it important at all to study the implications of these things?

First there is the matter of knowing that you are included. Imagine walking into a room and seeing a wrapped gift on a table, but without any name on its label. Are you apt to take the gift for yourself? You might, but there is a quiet uncertainty of whether it was intended for you to really have this gift. What would make you more likely to take the gift? If your name is on the package, you have no reluctance about taking it for yourself. The gift has your name on it. Salvation is called a gift (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:8-9). When you know that God has promised to save those who are in Christ forever, trust grows in your heart.

Second is the matter of intention. God saves people for His purposes. No one is saved by chance or by accident. Jesus, speaking to Jewish opponents, said, But ye believe not because ye are not my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me (John 10:26-27). No one who will be in heaven will hear the Lord say, “I was not expecting you. I have no idea who you are. I have no place for you.” The promise of eternal life to His own is even more than a generic, “there will be space for you to fit in.” Rather, Jesus promised in John 14:3, I go to prepare a place for you.... He is preparing something that is uniquely prepared so that when you arrive you will be aware that the place was designed to accommodate you.

Third is the matter of assurance of relationship. Because of the atoning work of Jesus on the cross, you who have come to Him for eternal salvation can say for a certainty, with the Apostle Paul, I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day (2 Timothy 1:12).

Dear reader, if you know the Lord Jesus as your own Redeemer and Savior, you have the greatest gift. You are privileged beyond words to know for sure that you have eternal life, not because of the merit of your efforts, but because of the finished, atoning work of Jesus on the cross for you (1 John 5:13).

Hoping to point you to Christ,

Dr Carl Martin

(New Life BPC, London)

More Lively Hope



*Kitchen Roster Leader: Today: Bro Raphael Ng.  Next Lord’s Day: Sis Xiao Hui Chye.

*Saturday Theology Classes for men will start on Saturday, 5 July. All men are requested to attend. More details next Lord’s Day.

*Last Lord’s Day, we were blessed by the presence of Rev Andrew Kam, Pastor of Yangon BPC, Yangon, Myanmar, & his brethren.

*There is a “Building Q&A” session on Saturday, 28 June, at 12:45 pm. All members are encouraged to attend.

*Pledges for Mrs WolHee Kim & family: please hand it to Bro Tony Law by today. The pledge is for July 2014 to June 2015.

*Farewell & God’s blessing for continuation of studies in Scotland: Sis Joelle Lam

*Catered Fellowship lunch today: Adult $5. Child under 5 years FREE.

*No Fellowship lunch next Lord’s Day. Only Coffee/Tea & Biscuits fellowship.


Praise & Thanksgiving

1. Journey mercies: Bro Houston Li & Sis Jan Sing (USA); Bros Raymond Ang (Adl/Pinnaroo) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); Sisters Sarah Carpenter, Mable Quek (S’pore), & Mary Ting (Sabah); & others who have arrived safely at their destinations. 

2. Church activities in the past week.

3. Visitors & new worshippers.

4. God’s daily mercy, guidance & blessings.


Prayer Items

1. Health & God’s healing - Dr Gary Cohen (USA), Dr SH Tow (S’pore); Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe; Rev George van Buuren; Grandpa Ki (S’pore); Bro Colin & Sis Kathleen Creaser; Bro Len & Sis Margaret Pearson; Preacher Zhang (Sihanoukville); Bros Herbert (Dilly) Anderson (Kenya), Raymond Ang’s father (S’pore), Surish Dharmalingam (Laos), Elton Law & Kang Fun Tan (Sis Felicia’s father - S’pore); Sisters Lai Kheng Chiong (KL), Margaret Hooper, Grace Gan’s father (healing), Queenie Lau, Choon Fong Lee (KL), Iris Surman’s brother, Corinne Teng, Susan Varadi, Susan Weng & Mavis Wong’s mother (salvation & healing); Mr Swee Liang Ng; Mr Mang Soo Ong; Bro Peng Cheong Wong; Mr Lucas Lee; Mr Tony Zhang; Mrs Maggie D’Mello (Mumbai); & others in affliction.

2. God’s strength, guidance & provision: Sis WolHee Kim & her two daughters (S Korea).

3. iSketch & Tell Studio, YouTube Ministry: Pr Hai Seng Lim (missions work in South East Asia).

4. Cambodia Missions - Bro Sun Sokha & Ministry (Phnom Penh); Bro Chan Thon & Ministry (Siem Reap).

5. New Life BPC (London) - strength & encouragement for congregation; Resident Preacher Mok.

6. Future ministry - God’s provision & guidance for Bro David & Sis Susan Weng. 

7. Ministry in Ebenezer BPC (June): Rev Edward & Sis Lehia Paauwe.

8. Ministry in Singapore: Pastor Ki (Calvary Jurong).

9.  Journey mercies: Ps Ki (Adl); Bro Houston Li & Sis Jan Sing (Overseas); Bros Raymond Ang (Pinnaroo/Adl) & Raphael Ng (Waikerie/Adl); Sisters Sarah Carpenter (Adl) & Joelle Lam (S’pore); & others travelling.

10.  Interpreters of sermon into Mandarin.

11.  Final Weeks of pregnancy: Sis May Lau

12.  Health in pregnancy: Sis Tabitha Tan.

13.  God’s guidance & wisdom for those in authority in  Australia.

14.  PR application: Bro William Song; Sisters Xiao Hui Chye & Yashu Qin.

15.  Scholarship application: Sis Katrina Loh.

16.  Post-natal recovery: Sis Kerrie Lam; health & normal development - Isabella.

17.  High school & university students - strength & endurance in study & exams.

18. Vacation Bible Study: Speaker - Pr Hai Seng Lim; organizers, helpers & children.

19.  Believers suffering persecution in Islamic nations.



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