“Not all, but still Oodles”

“Not all, but still Oodles” March 16, 2014

“Not all, but still oodles.” That’s something like howI would say it if asked how many people will be saved. In last week’s column, Ilisted several reasons why we can be sure Paul did not mean everyone will besaved, even though he wrote: “one act of righteousness leads to justificationand life for all men” (Rom 5:18). It might be easy to make the mistake ofassuming too much from what Paul says. But perhaps we are just as likely toassume too little—that is, to believe that the number of people God redeemswill be fairly small compared to the whole of humanity. Rather, the Bible givesus some strong reasons to believe that Christ’s work of redemption will outpaceAdam’s work of condemnation in every way, including in the final tally ofpeople affected by it.

First,Paul’s language in the Adam-Christ comparison of Romans 5 suggests as much.Adam’s work was devastating, to be sure. But when Paul describes Christ’s work,he always uses superlative language: “the grace of that one man Jesus Christabounded for many” (v15), “abundance of grace” (v17), “grace abounded all themore” (v20). It is the very nature of grace to overflow, overcome, andoverwhelm. Grace doesn’t just match one for one; it gushes in lavishcopiousness. Christ is far more powerful to save than Adam was to destroy.

Furthermore,God’s promise to Abraham included offspring as numerous as “the dust of theearth” (Gen 13:16), “the stars of the heaven” (Gen 15:5), and “the sand on theseashore” (Gen 22:17). And Paul makes very clear that the true offspring ofAbraham aren’t his physical descendants; they are those who share Abraham’sfaith—i.e., Christians (cf. Romans 4). And when the Apostle John recorded hisvision of the worshiping throng around the throne, he described it as “a greatmultitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes andpeoples and languages” (Rev 7:9).

Friends, beencouraged! Don’t view the world as still dominated by Adam, in sin andcondemnation, under the reign of death. Jesus has conquered! Any appearance ofsin’s increase is a bluff, an illusion, the dying spasms of vanquished foe. Atthe cross, sin and Satan were decisively defeated, defanged, and dethroned. Sobe engaged! God has a mighty harvest yet to be reaped. Spread the good news! ByHis overwhelming grace, the Lamb will receive an inheritance worthy of Hisgreat name.