What does the word “all” mean to you? In the South, when they were talking about oil, they would say it like “all.” You would stop at a mechanic’s shop, have him put a few pints of “all” in your car, and be on your way. Ironically, in the Bible the word “all” is the oil which keeps the machine of the gospel running.

In Luke 2:10b, an angel told the shepherds in the fields, “I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” They understood this to mean the message was for everyone. But how could this be a message of joy if it destined some to an eternity in Hell and promised others eternity in Heaven? That message wouldn’t bring me any joy, even if I was one of those chosen for Heaven.

Many Bible teachers believe that this idea of predestination can be proven in Scripture. They interpret some verses which use the word “all” literally, but change the meaning when they come to salvation verses which use the word. A good example of this is 1 Timothy 2:4, “Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Those who believe in predestination interpret this verse to mean Christ wants all of the elect to be saved. But why would Christ want those whom He predestined to Heaven to be saved — aren’t they going to be saved anyway? The only way we can interpret this verse, and every other verse like it, is in a literal way. “All” means “all,” and that’s all it means.

As long as the word “all” means “all,” then Christians have work to do. “All” is the oil which motivates us to reach as many people as we can with the gospel. Tell someone today that they are part of the “all” for whom Jesus died. That’s all the “all” means.

The preaching of the cross of Christ was the very center and heart of the message of the apostles, and there is nothing I know of that is more important than that every one of us should realize that this is still the heart and the center of the Christian message. — M. Lloyd-Jones

Devotional by Dr. James A. Scudder