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There is a popular Christian praise and worship song that is sung all over the world called “Come, Now is the Time to Worship.” A lot of hymnbook theology is trite and often downright untrue or misleading, but this particular song is true. Yet most Christians do not even realize what they are singing. Within the song is this:
One day every tongue will confess You are God.
One day every knee will bow.
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose You now!
It is based upon two passages: Phil. 2:10, 11 and 1 Tim. 4:10. The first reads,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.
Paul was, in turn, quoting from Isaiah 45:23-25, which says,
23 I have sworn by Myself [God's vow], the Word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness and will not turn back, that to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. 24 They will say of Me, “Only in the Lord are righteousness and strength.” Men will come to Him, and all who were angry at Him shall be put to shame. 25 In the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified, and will glory.
Here God swears that every knee will bow and every tongue swear allegiance to Him. This, of course, will occur at the Great White Throne Judgment, when there will be no more unbelievers. The prophet then speaks to the people in his day, saying in verse 25, “in the Lord all the offspring of Israel will be justified.”
These are the same Israelites who were such unbelievers that God sent the whole nation into exile into Assyria and divorced the nation (Jer. 3:8). Isaiah lived to see that day and probably wrote this passage some time after this great divorce. Surely he knew that most of those Israelites were not justified by faith during their life here on earth. Yet he says that in that day all Israel will be JUSTIFIED, which we know comes only BY FAITH.
Yet many would have us believe that in spite of their justification, these sinners will be lost forever in the judgment to come. There is no statement in the Bible saying that one can only be saved in this present life. The Church has often quoted Heb. 9:27, “and inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment,” explaining that this means this life is the only opportunity for justification. But read the verse for yourself. It does not say that.
It is true that men die once, and then comes the judgment when they are raised at the Great White Throne. But Paul says that every tongue will “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father.” In 1 Cor. 12:3 Paul says, “no one can say 'Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit.” So let no one say that their confession was apart from the moving of the Holy Spirit. Paul says again in Rom. 10:9,
9 that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.
It is to the glory of God—established by a divine vow—that every tongue will confess that He is Lord in that day. If they make that confession, it is a profession of faith made by the power of the Holy Spirit. In fact, it is inconceivable that anyone would or could refuse to believe when confronted by the full power and majesty of God Himself. There have been many revivals on earth where men fell to the ground confessing their sins in the street while passing by the building where the Spirit of God was moving in a powerful way. How much more at the Great White Throne Judgment?
When I was young, I often heard the statement that “there is no second chance.” Well, in a way that is correct, for God leaves nothing to chance. But even the law itself gives people a second opportunity for justification. The feast of Passover is a celebration of the Cross and the Lamb of God who died for the sin of the world. We keep Passover today, not by putting blood on our houses, but by applying the blood of the true Lamb to our heart and mind (our “house”). This is how we are ”justified by faith.”
But in Numbers 9:9-11 God revealed to Moses that if a man could not keep the Passover in the first month, he was to keep it in the second month. This prophesies of the second opportunity for justification.
10 If any one of you or of your generations becomes unclean because of a dead person or is on a distant journey, he may, however, observe the Passover to the Lord. 11 In the second month on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight, they shall observe it.
The application to us is this: a person touching death (“a dead person”) refers ultimately to our mortal bodies, the “body of death” (Rom. 7:24). Believers are those who have passed from death to life (1 John 3:14) and are clean through the Word which was spoken to them (John 15:3). Unbelievers are still unclean by reason of touching a dead body. Yet even these will have a second opportunity later, according to the law of Moses, which is the expression of a merciful God.
Secondly, if a person is on a long journey (from God), like the prodigal son in Luke 15, he too will have a second opportunity to keep the Passover. These provisions are made for the benefit of the majority of mankind, who are yet dead in their sins and whose hearts are far from God.
When God makes a vow, we ought to take special notice of it. His vow in Isaiah 45 is not based upon any conditions. It is simply a statement of what God will do by His own will. It is similar in nature to His vow in Num. 14:21, where He vowed, “As I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.”
Such a vow is not based upon the will of man or the will of the flesh, but only the will of God (John 1:13). This does not mean that He forces anyone to be justified; rather, He will make everyone willing and desirous of being justified. Some will be justified in their life time; most will be justified at the Great White Throne. Those who accepted Him earlier will be rewarded accordingly. Those who only accept Him later will be “saved yet so as by fire” (1 Cor. 3:15).
This brings us to the second verse on which the song is based (quoted earlier). 1 Tim. 4:10 says,
10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
He did NOT say that God is the Savior of all men—whoops! I mean all believers. He did NOT say that God is the Savior of all men, SPECIFICALLY believers. The word is “especially” (NASB). Strong's Concordance says that the word (#3122) means “most (in the greatest degree) or particularly.”
Paul uses this term again in Phil. 4:22, saying, “All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.” In other words, there is a special greeting from those of Caesar's household, but all the saints send greetings.
In the same way, He is the Savior of all men, especially believers. There is a special salvation for believers, but He will save all men.
As the song goes, “The greatest treasure remains for those who gladly choose You now!” Overcomers will be raised at the first resurrection to rule with Him. Believers will be rewarded and unbelievers judged at the White Throne. But all will ultimately be saved.