When you tell most Christians that the outcome of Paul’s Gospel is that everyone will eventually experience the free gift of salvation, they’ll inevitably say that people have to receive the gift in order to be saved, as though that statement helps support their position that not everyone will be saved.
You see, what they really mean when they make this statement is that everyone has to do something specific in order to be saved, which is choose to receive the gift, rather than simply receive the gift. What’s the difference between choosing to receive a gift and simply receiving a gift? Well, contrary to what most Christians assume, “receiving” something isn’t necessarily an action one does voluntarily. For example, Paul wrote about how he received thirty-nine lashes five different times, and if you think he wouldn’t have experienced those lashes unless he first chose to receive them, you need to reconsider a few things.
To put it in perspective, let’s say that you know someone who has their monthly rent payment automatically withdrawn from their bank account every month by their landlord, and that they didn’t have enough money to cover their rent anymore, which was going to result in them being evicted if they didn’t pay by the first of the next month. Then, let’s say I decide to give them a special gift, and direct-deposited enough money to pay their rent for the rest of their life into their bank account, and ask you to tell them the good news of what I did. Whatever you or they do at that point, their landlord is going to be able to withdraw the necessary funds to pay their rent next month (and every month after that), which means they won’t get evicted regardless of whether or not they choose to believe the money is in their bank account, or choose to ”receive” the gift from me (or even whether they ever hear the good news about the free gift they’ve already received from me at all).
Now, you can tell them that the good news about my free gift means they’ve been given the option to choose to “receive” my gift, otherwise they’ll end up homeless, but the truth is that they’ve already received it (they just don’t know it yet). And so you’d then be lying to them if that’s the “good news” you conveyed to them, because they’re guaranteed to have a place to live whether they choose to “receive” the gift I’d already given them (however that’s even supposed to happen) or not. In fact, even if you ignored my commission to tell them the good news, they’d still have a home next month. Of course, if they don’t know the good news about my free gift, they might try to find a way to work for the money they think they don’t have, but the fact remains that they’ve already received it, all without knowing it (or even having to know it). But wouldn’t you rather tell them the actual good news, which is that they’ve already been saved from homelessness, and that they can now relax and enjoy the freedom which comes from knowing they’ll always have a place to live, and that they don’t actually have to do any work at all to earn that salvation from homelessness (not even the work of having to choose to believe the good news, or having to choose to ”receive” the gift they’d already received at the time I gave it to them, prior to even finding out about it)?
The fact of the matter is, the Christian insistence on having to choose to receive the free gift of salvation in order to be saved is, in actuality, a rejection of the free gift, because they’re teaching that we have to do something specific in order for the gift to apply to us: choosing to “receive” it. So while, just like everyone else, even Christians have already received the free gift, also just like nearly everyone else, they’re unaware of the fact that they received it without having to choose to do so, and so they reject the fact that the gift is truly, 100% free (which includes free from having to do anything at all to receive it, even if that “something” is as simple as having to choose to “receive” it). God really is the Saviour of all mankind, and everyone will experience that salvation. However, those who happen to hear and believe the good news of the already existing salvation of all mankind (because of what the good news that Christ died for our sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day, means) will have a special, early experience of that salvation (this is what “specially of those that believe” means; the word ”specially” doesn’t mean “exclusively”), because we’ve come to realize that the gift was received by everyone already, and we know that this means there isn’t anything we have to do to earn (or even activate) the free gift — not even having to choose to “receive” it. In fact, if we did have to do something in order to be saved, that would make us our own (at least partial) saviours, since it would mean that what Christ accomplished just wasn’t enough to save us, because we have to activate that salvation ourselves through a wise choice to “receive” the gift.
Really, the only choice when it comes to believing the Gospel is whether or not to believe the Good News that everyone will be saved because of what Christ did. But regardless of what you choose to believe, the fact remains that everyone will be saved because of what Christ accomplished.