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Dear Partner,

I recently received a good question concerning a false doctrine that is now circulating called the "Gospel of Inclusion." The proponents of this movement twist the meaning of God's Word by lifting verses out of context in order to make them agree with their erroneous messages. They use those verses to declare that as long as any person in the world is sincerely seeking after God, it does not matter if they are Hindu, Buddhist, or Moslem, they are already saved no matter if they believe in Jesus Christ or not. I know … it is hard to believe that anybody who has read the bible even once could believe such a thing, but the movement is actually increasing in numbers as of this writing. The answer to the man's question not only reveals the true meaning of the verse in question, but it also demonstrates the importance of leaving every verse "in its setting" when meditating the Word of God.

Those who teach the "Gospel of Inclusion" use this verse a lot: I Tim. 4:9-10 - Where Paul says, 'God is the Savior of all men, especially those that believe.' They say, "See, God is the Savior of all men, and especially for those who believe." I mean I know through the rest of the Bible and scripture after scripture that the only way to God is through Jesus. I just wanted the truth of this verse... Because I know it can't mean what it seems to be saying on the surface.

You are right, it does not mean what they say it means. The only way to understand it is to leave it in the context of what Paul has been writing about to Timothy. Here are the verses in context:

1 Tim 4:1-12   Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

What is the subject matter? Is Paul writing about, "How to be born again?" No, not at all. He is telling Timothy to be bold and courageous when confronting these false teachers who have departed from the faith, who give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. Timothy's job as Pastor of the church at Ephesus is to boldly declare the truth right in the face of these men who have "departed from the faith." When he does so, those false teachers will come against Timothy with persecution and reproach. They may even threaten him physically.

Think about the persecution Paul has suffered over the years as he stood face to face against false teachers. He was stoned more than once. His feet were beaten with rods in order to break the bones in his feet to keep him from walking to city after city preaching the gospel. Once his friends had to let him down in a basket from a city wall at night in order to keep him from being murdered. If anybody knows about standing strong in the face of opposition, it is Paul. He is now exhorting Timothy to also stand strong against error and to trust in the Living God to "save" (deliver) him out of these difficulties, even as God has delivered Paul out of similar difficulties so many times in the past. Now, the question might arise, "Why does Paul say then that God is the Saviour of all men?" The key is in the following verses:

Luke 6:35   But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil.

Mat 5:44-45   But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

God is kind even to the unthankful and to the evil. By contrast, Satan is not kind to anybody. All he does is, “Kill, steal, and destroy.” [John 10:10] If anybody is ever “delivered” out of any kind of trouble at all ... it is God who delivered them. If God is so kind to the point He often delivers even evil men out of their difficulties, how much more will He deliver believers out of their difficulties? Again, in context, Paul is exhorting Timothy not to be afraid of the reproach and persecution that will come against him because he preaches the truth. Paul is saying, “Trust in God. He is your Deliverer.” (Saviour)

The Greek word translated "Saviour" in verse 10 is "soter" which is derived from the Greek word "sozo." Sozo means, "To save, deliver, protect, heal, make whole." It is sometimes used in the context of the new birth (being saved) but more often it is used in regard to being healed or delivered out of trouble. Here are some examples:

Mat 8:25   And his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save (sozo) us: we perish.

Mat 9:20-21   And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind him, and touched the hem of his garment: For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole (sozo).

Mat 14:30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save (sozo) me.

Mark 3:3-5 And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save (sozo) life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Mark 6:56 And whithersoever he entered, into villages, or cities, or country, they laid the sick in the streets, and besought him that they might touch if it were but the border of his garment: and as many as touched him were made whole (sozo).

In all of these cases the people were not asking to be born again. They were asking to be delivered from their present difficulties. In no possible way does the passage of scripture in 1 Tim Chapter 4 have ANYTHING to do with the whole world being "saved" in the sense of being "born again."

1 John 5:10-13   He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Sue and I love you and appreciate you. We thank God for your generous and giving heart. God bless you!

Your friend and co-laborer,

Gary Carpenter


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