I just wanted to pass on a few thoughts on the universal aspect of salvation. Those cans of worms are slimy and slippery, are they not? :)
I have three daughters, but there was a fourth … a stillborn. From my Bible College days we had learned a so-called Biblical-reassurance-clause that covered such a situation. If you combine David’s comment about his dead child not returning to him, but that he would go to the child, along with 1 John 2:12 that little children (also translated “infants”) are forgiven for His name’s sake you can find comfort by believing that all children who die before the so-called age of accountability will automatically go to heaven. I had used that with others in an attempt to comfort and assure them. But the whole idea only makes sense because we think we need it to. It seemed to tell me that God really might be willing to bend His otherwise rigid plan (that a person must make a decision to trust Christ as Savior) that made God more like me — gracious and fair. Somehow, there I was in the position where I might avail myself of this assurance that my dead child would be in heaven, but the realization of my own manipulations fell flat. I instead found no recourse to trust in anything but God Himself. For whatever He does is good, no matter how it appears to me. I understand the desire to want all my family and friends to be saved.
I know most of the verses and doctrines and arguments about Who did Christ really die for? and the controversy created by such positions. I find it amazing how that which is most obvious should be missed when we attempt to define who the world is. The Calvinistic position says that it is only those who are chosen of God, while the Free Will persuasion insists it means everybody!
So, if you reject the unfair notion of a God playing favorites as He does His “enee meenee minee mo” (we’ve been on both sides of that selection process, haven’t we?) then you can only assume that the world means absolutely everybody who has ever been born.
God did not send His son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through Him John 3:17
When John says that the world was saved through Him. And we can’t play with the word “should” as if it is conditional upon man’s faith, for it is only conditioned upon the work of Christ. The words and the structure are built to declare why and what He did.
What if BOTH views are created by considering God as being created in man’s image as opposed to man having been created in God’s? I know this can appear to be a heavy, theological argument, but it is actually a simple difference that appears complex because we have so many complex thoughts and experiences tied into our belief systems.