You may be surprised to know that this question has been asked in some form or fashion since the time of the early church.
The concern in the early church was whether those outside Judaism could experience the full promise of a Jewish Messiah. The reason why there are multiple “Pentecost” experiences as the gospel begins to expand was to illustrate definitively that the gospel was for all peoples. The book of Acts settles this question and Paul also clarifies it in his writings.
“The gospel and salvation are for everyone,” says the Holy Spirit.
“But you have to become Jewish first! …or at least be circumcised!” insisted the Judaizers.
But Paul, the Apostle, writing under the Holy Spirit, declared, “No.” And the other apostles agreed at the Jerusalem Council.
A person does not need to “clean themselves up” first. There is no “getting your house in order.” There are no prerequisites to salvation! In fact, the gospel forbids that you try to be worthy, and it denies that you can do anything to be earn it.
So, who can be saved?
Anyone who repents of their sin and believes in the gospel. Anyone.
Pick anyone from any country, from any background, speaking any language, of any ethnicity, of any occupation, anywhere on the socioeconomic spectrum, with any religious background… AND if they will receives the gospel through repentant faith, they can and will be saved.
Anyone. N. E. One.
Or to put it another way: NOBODY is exempt. NO ONE is beyond the reach of God’s saving arm.
The apostle Paul, himself, (previously known as Saul) serves as a posterchild for this transformation. Paul considered himself to be the least of the apostles and the greatest of all sinners. Indeed, Saul was a terrorist, a religious terrorist who hunted down Christians and sought to lock them up in prison.
But God interrupted Saul’s plans. In the middle of a terrorist campaign, the resurrected Christ intervened, stopping Saul in his tracks, blinding him, and sitting him in time out for three days. Having invaded Saul’s life, Jesus would now begin to re-orient his heart to the gospel.
Saul’s mind could not have been less inclined toward the gospel. His life could not have been any more in opposition to Christ. If you were searching all of Palestine for the least likely candidate for salvation, you would have probably chosen Saul, the Pharisee. In fact, “unlikely” would have been a gross understatement.
While more could be said here, we can sum up our answer this way:
1. ANYBODY can be saved. Period.
No qualifiers. No caveats. We’ve expounded this point already, but we’ll say it one more time. In bold print. For those at the back.
This is the clearest, most concise, ultimate answer to the question, “Who can be saved?” But, for the sake of clarity, let’s offer two corollary applications.
2. EVERYBODY must be offered salvation. Because anyone can be saved, we pray for God to save souls – not merely generically but specifically. We pray earnestly, daily, and urgently for unbelievers by name that they might embrace Christ by faith.
And praying for the salvation of souls, we also pray for opportunities to share the gospel, and because we expect Him to answer those prayers, we watch for opportunities and then we make the most of the opportunities we see.
3. NOBODY is excluded. We are allowed to give up on NOBODY. No one is “too lost,” “too hard,” “too stubborn,” “too opposed,” or “too _______” for the gospel.
If anything… N. E. THANG. …in your life or theology causes you to cease praying for others’ salvation, anything that robs you of the urgency of sharing your faith, anything that would deny salvation to anyone for any reason, then you should repent and seek change in that area immediately. Leave a comment on this post or reach out to me directly; I would be more than willing to help you work through whatever issue it is.
This reality concerning salvation is intended to be encouraging. So…
As long as there is life in a body, their soul can be saved.
Keep praying for that son, daughter, spouse, parent, best friend.
I know it’s been years, perhaps even a lifetime, but God can and does save. He saves at young ages and He saves later in life. It doesn’t matter what age, how determined, how angry, how opposed… when God shines the light of the gospel in someone’s heart, darkness is dispelled, eyes open, hearts receive, and lives are transformed.
Trust the Holy Spirit. God is working where we cannot see.
Keep praying. Keep loving. Keep sharing.