Universalism (Ultimate Salvation)

A word of caution: It’s a fact that some people will unsubscribe from our website because of this message – that’s fine though. It seems that there’s a massive split happening in the church world over this exact same issue at the moment.
 
We are however not afraid of including links to other websites that propagate universalism either – people need to make up their minds about the truth for themselves. We encourage even those who do not hold the Universalist view to ascertain why they hold onto their beliefs for themselves, because somewhere down the road they might be confronted with this doctrine.
 
This will be our only message on Universalism for the time being.
 

Universalism (Ultimate Salvation)

Universalism is the belief that every person on the planet will be saved, whether they believe in God and want to know Him, or not. There are some slight differences within the Universalist camp as well, such as when everybody gets saved. The one group believes that human beings can definitely go through this life unsaved, but that God will ultimately (after this life) save everybody when “every knee will bow and every tongue confess to God” (Rom 14:11). Yet we see that when a king conquers another country and his captives bow their knees to him and confess their defeat, that they don’t necessarily become his friends or allies. In most cases it only strengthens their hatred towards him.

The other camp of Universalists believes that mankind’s sin never actually separated them from God and that every person who lives on the planet is part of God’s family, whether they believe in Him or not. They believe that the animosity expressed by the majority of mankind towards God is apparently only due to a “feeling” of separation from God, which is based on their interpretation of Col 1:21, which says “And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works…” From the context it’s clear though that Paul the apostle was addressing the church at Colosse (see Col 1:2) in this verse, which he clearly affirmed by saying “YOU, who were once alienated…” not implying the whole world.

This belief actually almost borders on Gnosticism, note the striking similarities:

Gnosticism: The belief that sin doesn’t exist (and people therefore don’t need to be born again) and that by attaining a certain level of conscious awareness called “Gnosis” you are freed from the bondage and limitations of the material world.

Universalism: The belief that everybody in the world is saved (and therefore don’t need to be born again) and people simply need to attain a “conscious awareness” that they are free from the bondage and limitations of the material world.


The Indwelling Holy Spirit

Another big problem with this second view is that Universalism totally disregards the fact that the Holy Spirit is the GUARANTEE of a person’s salvation. The Bible shows us that if someone doesn’t have the Holy Spirit then they are not saved. The Holy Spirit is also received by BELIEVING:

In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (Eph 1:13-14 NKJV emphasis added)

Unbelievers actually have another spirit in them and there’s NO getting around this:

…according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience. (Eph 2:2b NKJV)


God Created Puppets

The Universalist view negates any faith response from a believer. They imply that we are merely victims of circumstance – puppets in God’s grand game. God’s will in the end will override man’s freedom to choose.  Of course it’s God’s will that nobody should perish (1 Timothy 2:4), but if God’s will always prevails, why doesn’t He reach into our material world right now and put an end to all the pain, hurt, suffering and destruction around us as well? Simply because He gave us the right to choose. Our choices carry consequences. He created mankind with a free will and said to him: “You rule the earth” (Gen 1:28). Adam did not rule and therefore lost his authority – bottom line. It’s therefore a far stretch to assume that God will force His will onto mankind in the afterlife if He doesn’t also do it now.


Accepting a Gift

It’s one thing to hear the gospel, but another to accept it. If someone is given a gift for their birthday, they have to accept it to make it their own. The Universalist view dictates that the person who is giving the gift can be left standing and knocking at the door with the gift in his hand, without actually taking it from him. They then believe that someday (after many, many years) the birthday boy will unknowingly step out his front door and be ambushed by that person who will force him to take the gift.

Here on earth if someone forces their love on other person without that person’s consent, it is considered to be rape. And yet this is exactly what Universalists accuse God of… He is like a life saver, pushing us into the swimming pool just so He can pull us out again.


What about a relationship?

Having a relationship with someone after all implies mutual trust between both parties – it’s about intimacy, love, pleasure and fulfillment. Yet Universalists propagate that in spite of a person’s cursing, ridiculing, mocking and loathing of God, even denying His very existence, that such a person is still God’s family even if they don’t accept Christ as their Savior. This kind of teaching voids mankind of any form of responsibility for their actions or beliefs, which is not what the Bible teaches. And most importantly, if God can not have a personal relationship with a person, why would He adopt them into His family where it’s ALL about relationship?

Without Faith, the Gospel Profits Nothing

The writer of Hebrews talks about how Israel heard the gospel, but rejected it – they didn’t mix it with faith:

For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them [Israel]; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it. (Heb 4:2 NKJV, annotations added)

So it’s definitely possible for the gospel to be unprofitable to us. Hebrews 4 talks about how those who believe enter into God’s rest. Israel’s perishing in the desert was a type and shadow of how unbelief can hinder someone from entering into this rest (Heb 4:11).

WHEN Does a Person Receive the Holy Spirit?

One question that makes Universalists do some incredible scriptural gymnastics and avoid the topic, is when you ask them WHEN did they receive the Holy Spirit. They cannot answer that they received it BEFORE being born/incarnated into this world, since that would mean they had to have been born straight from their mother’s womb already filled with the Holy Spirit. And of course Jesus said the following to Nicodemus:

Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a man is born of water [his mother’s womb] and the Spirit [spiritual birth], he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (John 3:5 MKJV, annotations added)

This would also mean that they entered into this world without a sinful nature and were never actually separated from God, which of course contradicts scripture:

And He has made you alive, who were once dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the children of disobedience; among whom we also had our way of life in times past, in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the thoughts, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. (Eph 2:1-3, MKJV)

But God, being rich in mercy, for his great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ  (by grace you have been saved)… (Eph 2:4-5 WEB, emphasis added)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses (Col 2:13 ESV, emphasis added)

We can clearly see that there definitely was a time when we were separated from God.

On the other hand Universalists can’t say that they received the Holy Spirit during THIS lifetime, since that would mean that there had to have been a specific date and time and place where they confessed the Lord Jesus with their lips and believed in their heart that God raised Him from the dead and they were born again, after which they received the Holy Spirit as the guarantee of their inheritence (Eph 1:13). And of course, this would destroy their entire doctrine that EVERYBODY is saved.

Another variant that is doing the rounds is that Christians have not received the Holy Spirit yet, and will only receive Him on the day of Judgment when they will be made perfect into the image of Christ. This of course contradicts Heb 10:14 which says He HAS perfected forever those who are sanctified. And the entire book of Hebrews, especially the next chapter, is full of statements about how this is for all who BELIEVE. This also brings up the question that if such a person has not yet received the Holy Spirit, by whose power are they healing the sick? Whose fruit are they manifesting?


God’s Faith

Another common Universalist view is that since faith is gift of the Spirit, He is solely responsible for making us place that faith in Christ. On the one hand the Universalist believes that ALL will be saved, regardless of what they believe or whether they even believe at all. On the other hand they believe that IF faith is required in order to be saved, then God will give us that faith, no… force that faith onto us. They support this by very cleverly “bending” Gal 2:20 from the King James Version which talks about “living by the faith of God” to support their view.

Jesus however clearly said we need to BELIEVE in Him to be saved:

“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40 NKJV)

Also, since faith is listed as a gift of the Holy Spirit in Galatians 5, it also means that a person needs to have the Holy Spirit first before the gift of faith can actually manifest through them.

If God were somehow going to save everybody, why didn’t He just plainly state it? Why put His Son through all the anguish of dying on a cross if He was going to save everybody in any case? Universalists answer this last question by saying that the purpose of the cross was to show the depth of God’s love towards mankind, to illustrate the profundity of what God would do for us. But would the Father really have His Son slaughtered like that if all it accomplished was just to have people change their “opinion” of Him? Of course not! Jesus died on that cross to end the Old Covenant that God had entered into with Israel – the only way to get out of a covenant is for one of the parties to die. And with Christ’s death a New Covenant was written with blood, extending the offer of salvation to the entire world, in fact to anyone who would simply believe in Christ.

In spite of all this, the Universalists are still able to make just about any scripture fit in with their view by doing some impressive “gymnastics” with the Bible verses. For every argument they have a counter argument. For every scripture they have a counter scripture. In the end it boils down to a personal choice. Even those who don’t hold the Universalist view need to establish for themselves why they don’t.

When, however, the Spirit comes, who reveals the truth about God, he will lead you into all the truth. (John 16:13a, GNB)

For those who haven’t ever been confronted with Universalism, here is one of the best websites. Note that the questions asked and statements made will make most people who have not considered Universalism before question a substantial amount of what they believe. The arguments are powerful, sobering and very cleverly formulated. For some it might be a Pandora’s Box, better left untouched…

http://www.tentmaker.org/articles/universalism-is-not-in-the-bible.htm

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  1. If you are interested in some new ideas on religious pluralism and the Trinity, please check out my website at http://www.religiouspluralism.ca. It previews my book, which has not been published yet and is still a “work-in-progress.” Your constructive criticism would be very much appreciated.

    My thesis is that an abstract version of the Trinity could be Christianity’s answer to the world need for a framework of pluralistic theology.

    In a constructive worldview: east, west, and far-east religions present a threefold understanding of One God manifest primarily in Muslim and Hebrew intuition of the Deity Absolute, Christian and Krishnan Hindu conception of the Universe Absolute Supreme Being; and Shaivite Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist apprehension of the Destroyer (meaning also Consummator), Unconditioned Absolute, or Spirit of All That Is and is not. Together with their variations and combinations in other major religions, these religious ideas reflect and express our collective understanding of God, in an expanded concept of the Holy Trinity.

    The Trinity Absolute is portrayed in the logic of world religions, as follows:

    1. Muslims and Jews may be said to worship only the first person of the Trinity, i.e. the existential Deity Absolute Creator, known as Allah or Yhwh, Abba or Father (as Jesus called him), Brahma, and other names; represented by Gabriel (Executive Archangel), Muhammad and Moses (mighty messenger prophets), and others.

    2. Christians and Krishnan Hindus may be said to worship the first person through a second person, i.e. the experiential Universe or “Universal” Absolute Supreme Being (Allsoul or Supersoul), called Son/Christ or Vishnu/Krishna; represented by Michael (Supreme Archangel), Jesus (teacher and savior of souls), and others. The Allsoul is that gestalt of personal human consciousness, which we expect will be the “body of Christ” (Mahdi, Messiah, Kalki or Maitreya) in the second coming – personified in history by Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha (9th incarnation of Vishnu), and others.

    3. Shaivite Hindus, Buddhists, and Confucian-Taoists seem to venerate the synthesis of the first and second persons in a third person or appearance, ie. the Destiny Consummator of ultimate reality – unqualified Nirvana consciousness – associative Tao of All That Is – the absonite* Unconditioned Absolute Spirit “Synthesis of Source and Synthesis,”** who/which is logically expected to be Allah/Abba/Brahma glorified in and by union with the Supreme Being – represented in religions by Gabriel, Michael, and other Archangels, Mahadevas, Spiritpersons, etc., who may be included within the mysterious Holy Ghost.

    Other strains of religion seem to be psychological variations on the third person, or possibly combinations and permutations of the members of the Trinity – all just different personality perspectives on the Same God. Taken together, the world’s major religions give us at least two insights into the first person of this thrice-personal One God, two perceptions of the second person, and at least three glimpses of the third.

    * The ever-mysterious Holy Ghost or Unconditioned Spirit is neither absolutely infinite, nor absolutely finite, but absonite; meaning neither existential nor experiential, but their ultimate consummation; neither fully ideal nor totally real, but a middle path and grand synthesis of the superconscious and the conscious, in consciousness of the unconscious.

    ** This conception is so strong because somewhat as the Absonite Spirit is a synthesis of the spirit of the Absolute and the spirit of the Supreme, so it would seem that the evolving Supreme Being may himself also be a synthesis or “gestalt” of humanity with itself, in an Almighty Universe Allperson or Supersoul. Thus ultimately, the Absonite is their Unconditioned Absolute Coordinate Identity – the Spirit Synthesis of Source and Synthesis – the metaphysical Destiny Consummator of All That Is.

    After the Hindu and Buddhist conceptions, perhaps the most subtle expression and comprehensive symbol of the 3rd person of the Trinity is the Tao; involving the harmonization of “yin and yang” (great opposing ideas identified in positive and negative, or otherwise contrasting terms). In the Taoist icon of yin and yang, the s-shaped line separating the black and white spaces may be interpreted as the Unconditioned “Middle Path” between condition and conditioned opposites, while the circle that encompasses them both suggests their synthesis in the Spirit of the “Great Way” or Tao of All That Is.

    If the small black and white circles or “eyes” are taken to represent a nucleus of truth in both yin and yang, then the metaphysics of this symbolism fits nicely with the paradoxical mystery of the Christian Holy Ghost; who is neither the spirit of the one nor the spirit of the other, but the Glorified Spirit proceeding from both, taken altogether – as one entity – personally distinct from his co-equal, co-eternal and fully coordinate co-sponsors, who differentiate from him, as well as mingle and meld in him.

    For more details, please see: http://www.religiouspluralism.ca

    Samuel Stuart Maynes

  2. Another thought or three concerning my earlier post.

    Read Romans 6 concerning what happens in Baptism, yes what Peter spoke on the day of Pentecost sometimes works out differently in some situations; such as Samaria, Cornelius’ house; but it was an emphasis of 1st Century church to get new believers in the water, not wait till they had gone through new believers class. Paul’s 1st question to the disciples of John he ran across in Ephesus was “Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed.” Based on their answer he got them in the water.

    Another thought concerning this how long has it been since the church actually practiced getting new believers in the water immediately after their coming to Christ? By the 2nd Century some where observing new converts behavior and making them wait up to 3 years; checking them out to see if they deserved baptism or not. How many churches today get new converts in the water; most I know require a new believer’s class before, in some there is no emphasis on baptism at all. Have you ever been to a big evangelistic crusade where after altar call they took the new believers to the water? I don’t remember it ever happening.

    Consider the words of John the Baptist concerning Christ; he could have spoken of signs and wonders but here is what he spoke concerning Christ: “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and fire.” Most of us Charismatic folks get all gushy about getting baptized with fire; but really? Usually in the Old Testament fire spoke of God’s wrath not His blessing; my conclusion is everyone gets baptized some with the Holy Spirit some with fire. The Kingdom Christ came to establish on earth is in the Holy Spirit.

  3. [WHEN Does a Person Receive the Holy Spirit?] One must obey the Gospel to receive the Spirit, on the Day Of Pentecost Peter gave us a very simple to this question when he was asked by those who heard his message; “Brethren what must we do?” His reply in Acts 2:38 lays out a guideline for us to follow when someone comes to Christ: “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sin and you WILL RECEIVE the gift of the Holy Spirit.” He said it in a little different way not long after: “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). OBEY the Gospel without that obedience to the Gospel one cannot be born from on high.

  4. There are RIGHTEOUS and UNRIGHTEOUS people walking on the planet. If everybody on the planet is saved, Go will have to apologize to all the people who died in the flood.

    Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
    Gen 6:6 And the LORD was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart.
    Gen 6:7 So the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

    Gen 6:11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence.
    Gen 6:12 And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth.
    Gen 6:13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth.

    Gen 7:20 The waters prevailed above the mountains, covering them fifteen cubits deep.
    Gen 7:21 And all flesh died that moved on the earth, birds, livestock, beasts, all swarming creatures that swarm on the earth, and all mankind.
    Gen 7:22 Everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life died.
    Gen 7:23 He blotted out every living thing that was on the face of the ground, man and animals and creeping things and birds of the heavens. They were blotted out from the earth. Only Noah was left, and those who were with him in the ark.

    Gen 8:18 So Noah went out, and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him.
    Gen 8:19 Every beast, every creeping thing, and every bird, everything that moves on the earth, went out by families from the ark.
    Gen 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and took some of every clean animal and some of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
    Gen 8:21 And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done.

    Gen 9:13 I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
    Gen 9:14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,
    Gen 9:15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. (MKJV)

  5. It was GOD who made the covenant with Noah after the flood, never to destroy the earth with a flood again.

    Why would God make a covenant if it wasn’t Him who did the killing?

    Abraham once reasoned with God not to destroy Sodom and Gamorra, note again, He reasoned with GOD! He didn’t reason with Satan (see Gen 18). The deal in the end was that if they could find 10 righteous people there the cities would be spared.

    But it wasn’t. So again, who was behind the killing?

    Also, who turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt?

  6. If ALL the world was saved, who was Jesus talking about when He spoke of “the World” in the following verses?

    John 16:7 Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. 8 And when he comes, he will convict THE WORLD concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: 9 concerning sin, because THEY do not believe in me; 10 concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; 11 concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. (Emphasis added).

    Clearly there are some people who still need to be convicted of the SIN of unbelief in Jesus Christ!!

  7. Every ark in the bible is a picture of Jesus Christ.

    Gen.6:14 “make an ark of gopher wood (wood representing humanity), rooms you shall make in the ark (3 levels in the ark) and pitch it within and without the pitch.”

    The Hebrew word for pitch is atone, therefore, Jesus Christ, Noah’s ark, has made atonement for us inside & out, inward & outward redemption. Every man has been atoned FOR in the humanity of Jesus, but not every man has received the atonement.

    Gen.7:8 God told Noah to take clean AND UNCLEAN beasts into the ark.

    This is symbolic of every man (saved and unsaved) being taken into the body of Jesus, Noah’s ark, on the cross. Everything that was clean & unclean in the old world that ended, the Old covenant was wrapped up in the humanity of Jesus Christ and done away with through the cross. The judgment of God fell upon the vehicle we were in, namely Jesus Christ. John 12:31-32 Jesus drew all of the worlds judgment upon him self, bringing us into a new world, a new kingdom where our judgment is PAST, not future. In Jesus Christ, Noah’s ark, we landed in a new world where the curse is reversed.

  8. Yes, that IS the question. One imagines that at the judgment seat an accused party has opportunity to answer the judge. When faced with ultimate love then who would not believe Truth? On the other hand, we see the rich man in the flames with Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham and that man regretting prior to the final judgment and yet not being able to take action. He regrets being caught and wants to protect his brethren without believing but having been shown his end. How can one have faith in what one already knows? The Presupposition is that when faced with Love then one will not be able to help Loving back. There is satan, however, to consider–who knowing God, rejected him. So we move on to the gospel of Peter–or something by a similar name–which speaks of the ultimate end of the sinner; for we know that all who Love will not wish that ANY should perish but will be Like Father and \’the effectual, fervent PRAYER of a righteous man availeth much,\’ and will they not pray? But who will learn from a lesson of hell which is not believed to be forever? So when \”There is time no more,\” and forever has ended then those who would be there endlessly are coughed up and at reception at the throne of Grace are they smitten with the Love and changed in the heart or cast away. And if they are cast away and time is no more then is forever possibly beyond the time of Repenting at the throne? Or are they cast away and the Saints pray…and those who know Forever in hell are Rescued, changed…with the angels? All have been threatened with the sure punishment in eternal hell as even in the Book of Enoch. With no chance of parole. Would Gratefulness Overcome? God has it within His means to maneuver Circumstances to change men–within…but he will not change them himself, where it Counts, will.<3+W–

  9. I appreciate the discussion here…

    For what it is worth, I have a degree in theology and 40 years as a Christian in several movements… I am not a “Universalist” (and have researched what the term means :), but neither do I believe that faith is the one good work we do to get in on the deal that God is offering (Eph. 2:8-10). Faith simply agrees with what God has already made true in Christ Jesus by what He accomplished on the Cross by His initiative alone. Much of the confusion about all this springs from the fact that we do not define our terms and assume we know what the other person means by the terms he is using. First, we should define what we mean by “Saved”, “in Christ”, “Atonement”, “Reconciliation”, “Faith” and the like—then try to understand what they mean by the same terms, before slinging the “Universalist” or “Gnostic” label in unhelpful judgment.

    Yes, I believe there is a hell that begins now—but God IS “not willing that any should perish” and is ultimately concerned about relationship, not “balancing” the theological “books”, else we are ALL damned. How many people are reconciled from God’s side of the relationship (2 Cor. 5:14-6:2)? Yes, men need to respond to live a reconciled life—be “saved”—and receive the benefits of the relationship that God is offering. Yet, there really is no “instamatic crucifier” in heaven that custom-crucifies Christ for you when you say the “sinner’s prayer”. “It is finished”, means “finished”… What a scandal—LoL! First Adam messed us all up without our permission and Christ, Second Adam, saved us with our permission… Yet we need to participate to enjoy salvation… Sometimes God visits people directly and the light of revelation goes on in their hearts. Sometimes it happens through the preaching of the Gospel and their response by faith to willingly participate in the relationship God is offering. But the Good News is not man’s side of the relationship with their failure to respond and reminding men of their sins—it is declaring God’s side of the relationship—”You are reconciled from God’s side, now you ‘be reconciled from your side!'”

    It is not heresy to preach God’s side of the relationship—it is the Gospel! Sin, hell and judgement have been made to be the central theme of the prominent Galatian bewitchment pseudo-gospel so long, preaching reconciliation and the new covenant seems like it has to be some heresy to a lot of the church. “Universalism” is the most recent tag to dismiss preaching not approved by the religious spirit mistaken for Holy Spirit in so many places.

    A note about Grace Communion International… I have met the leaders there and know their story… These men heard the message of Grace and realized they were essentially a cult with bad theology. They have made every effort to connect with mainstream evangelicals and reform themselves at great personal cost. They have reached out to well respected theologians across the board. They are not Universalists by any means. If we are truly orthodox, we should support and encourage them, not slander them with popular dismissive labels.

    Please take some time to understand that Trinitarian theology is orthodox. Universalism is not even related. Universal Reconciliation and Universalism are not the same… Jesus has been made too small for too long and the implications of the incarnation completely underestimated. Please check it out…

    There is really no such thing as “Trinitarian Universalism”—it is a non sequitur… This is the theological equivalent of walking into a garage and randomly pointing to a car being repaired and saying that “the problem is clearly a fouled spark plug in the transmission.” :)

    Here is a start on why there is no such thing as “Trinitarian Universalism” by Steve McVey, a Baptist PhD Theologian:
    http://gracewalkministries.blogspot.com/search?q=Trinitarian+Universalism

    Let’s avoid foolish quarreling about ultimate destinations of the dead and help the living now with the Good News! God actually thinks the cross was enough to reconcile all men—now you enjoy your reconciliation by living in union with your loving Father.

    Blessings!

  10. I guess if God will save EVERYONE then He must have been a little confused when He wiped out the entire planet with a flood, except for Noah and his family…

    God must have been suffering from a split peronality when He destroyed Sodom and Gamorra…

    He must have been facing an identity crisis when He sent an Angel to slay 185,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19:35) who were fighting against Israel.

    Yep, God sure seems confused according to your little pet doctrine…

  11. Michael
    As an interested Universalist I agree with every word you say. Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus. Nobody, even in the future ages, can enter Heaven until they accept the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible prophesises that that time will come and every knee shall bow and to the glory (genuine praise) of God. There is other name under Heaven whereby a soul can be saved, There are no short cuts.

  12. Thank you Andre. I agree and share your frustration. Based loosely on the FB crowd, this idea is spreading very rapidly. Like you, I find that their theological acumen is seriously wanting. There is a disdain for any formal theological training combined with a willingness to listen to almost any off the wall theological statements. Just yesterday I pulled this quote from FB:

    “if the devil is the adamic or carnal nature of every man, and all men are perfected in Christ, then the devil is not going to get saved, but will simply cease to exist.”

    Not only is that nonsense, it is a patently unBiblical statement. But this is the kind of statement that gets the likes on FB. What is going on?

    Perhaps even more concerning, this is coming from several different directions. I have been studying and working with those involved in the Trinitarian Universalism as promoted by what used to be called the “Worldwide Church of God” and is now increasingly accepted in the New Covenant community as “Grace Communion International.” But people like Rob Bell and Thomas Talbott, who deny the reality of hell have no obvious connection with the TU groups.

    But you and I just want people to go to hell. It makes us happy to think of them burning forever. That’s the accusation they level against those of us who still believe what the Bible teaches.

  13. I have come to the conclusion that this new “fluffy” group of Grace preachers (who don’t want to be called Universalists, simply because they don’t like the label – but essentially their message is the same), have isolated themselves from the world to such an extent (only hanging out in churches and at conferences with BELIEVERS) that they have forgotten just how much certain people HATE God, REJECT Jesus and MOCK and SCORN the Holy Spirit.

    The hearts of some are so hardened that even if God Himself stood before them or a mighty miracle happened before their eyes, they would find some excuse to explain it away.

    I’ve talked with a few people like this recently, who have HEARD the Gospel and STILL refused to believe – they LOATHE God! Come on, who are we kidding here? God is ALL about RELATIONSHIP, and those who pull their noses up at Jesus are not saved!!

    What would you say about a Satanic high priest, who urinates on pictures of Jesus, slaughters babies to offer on an altar to Satan, KNOWS the Bible, KNOWS what Jesus has accomplished and STILL spits it all back in God’s face?? Yes there is grace even for such a person, but until they surrender their lives to God and ACCEPTS Jesus as Lord, His sacrifice doesn’t benefit them at all.

    AGAIN, I wonder when the last time was that any of these “preachers” spoke with a hard core atheist or God HATER in the street. My guess is however that they’d just sweep that encounter under the rug (like they do with most Bible verses that don’t line up with their theology) and carry on with their hidden agenda.

    Sorry for the rant, but DAMMIT this deception is spreading fast!! And all because people nowadays don’t go search the scriptures for themselves, but instead they rely on “the man of God” to interpret it for them…

  14. Good reasoning & well thought out, Brian. I am persuaded that man’s will is not stronger than God’s will & that anyone can (and will) be convinced of God’s saving grace, whether on this side of the veil or the other side. Paul tells us in I Corinthians that “if in THIS life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” And the writer of Acts refers to “this Jesus, whom the heavens must retain until the RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS . . . ”

  15. Great discussion here and carried out with mutual respect a rare phenomenon on most blogs/forums nowadays. Ever tried debating on YouTube? They can destroy you there. It’s simply outrageous the abuse what YouTube allows.

    I am 67 and have been a Christian since 1975 and have spent years studying Bible and Bible theology. I have read all around Calvinism and totally reject its conclusions as unbiblical. I believe in free will but I also believe God is sovereign and uses His Spirit to influence our will. Until recently I rejected Universal Reconciliation as wishful thinking. I paid no attention to it and so knew little about its tenets. Now I am beginning to be persuaded otherwise.

    The reason is simple. There is clear Biblical evidence that God has PURPOSED to save all people and He has the POWER to save all people and He WILL save all people. The power is the Gospel.

    Thomas Talbott in his amazing book The Inescapable Love of God, sets out these three propositions in much more detail and using slightly different terminology than mine but he shows how that if you are an Arminian or a Calvinist you will only be able to go with two out of these three propositions. A Universalist can accept all three and do so with full backing from scripture. Let me assure you that I am a very careful student of the Bible and I am not prone to accepting just what any Tom, Dick or Harry throws at me but I can tell you this that with the evidence from scripture backed by the evidence of the original Hebrew and Greek languages and with the evidence from the history of the church for the firt five centuries there’s is a powerful case. Study it out yourself with an open mind as I did, before you reject it out of hand.

    In peace

  16. Andre…i appreciate the information in your article. I agree. If i offended you…i am sorry. I appreciate your fearless boldness. God bless you!

  17. If, in the end, all are saved, regardless of what one does or believes, here on this earthly plane, then Jesus is a non-issue! It really doesn’t matter and “all roads lead to “heaven”!
    And yes, why bother evangelizing, why did Paul, Stephen and many, many others feel the need to preach Christ crucified and ultimately get fed to lions, get tortured, stoned, etc. if it really doesn’t matter what one believes???
    “But to as many as RECEIVED Him, to them gave He Power to become the Sons of God, even to them that BELIEVE on His Name.” John 1:12

  18. Looked up some universalist sites today. Romans 5 and 2. Cor. 5 really are a mystery and when Jesus said “it is finished” than its finished.
    But there was not one universalist site that had to say something about faith.
    I like what Francois du Toit says: “the good news is, that you are included in what christ has done and that good news has the power to impart faith ” (freely quoted)
    And Faith is needed: Romans 3,25

    “Heaven and Hell are full of forgiven sinners” Robert F. Capon.

  19. Simply put if one -just one- person spends forever in Hell the grand purpose of God’s creation i.e eternal relationship with Him will have been circumvented by Satan. Evil will have the last laugh at having stolen one of God’s children and having the words of His mouth return void. Hell is real but not forever. It is a place of correction and it’s time is finite before it is cast into the lake of fire. “Every knee will bow..” Delve into Christian history and see that the concept of ‘eternal’ Hell was not part of original Christian belief till 400 years later. Little of Hell is even in the OT. Any mention of Hell for Adam/Eve? For Cain? Ever wonder why? Jesus is the ONLY way in. The only legal way for sure but He will have His desired end. Has Hell brought the world to Christ? Does fear ever bring love? We have been teaching Hell for a thousand years and folks it has not worked. Do we see churches full of joyful eager Christians spilling into the streets to spread the Good News. Love alone works and love is teaching the joyful news of what Christ has done so all can partake of His victory. We still preach, we still get souls ‘saved’, we still evangelize but from the foundation of joy not fear. We still warn people that they will suffer/enjoy the results of their actions. I am a Universalist and believe God gets the last laugh on evil and nothing -nothing! separates us from the love of Christ.
    Selah

  20. I believe the JESUITS who secretly infiltrate the church throughout the world may be responsible for Christian Universalism.
    The secret society is real, there is a black pope, and they are sent out into all society, especially in churches to bring us all back under the Pope. We are no longer called Heratics now, but separated bretheren. They tried to burn us all at the stake and wipe us out, sonow they are trying a different approach, of joining us.

  21. Everyone just read comment #60.
    :P

    Props to Andre and the homies for defending the faith.
    As for the universalists…. man… i don’t even know…
    You almost confused me there…
    With all this modern gnosticism… read 1 John guys. John wrote
    it to battle gnosticism at the time. Jeez.

    In Grace through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ

    -joseph

  22. Sorry..not puppet :-) I meant of course a butterfly..don´t know where I got puppet from…sounded right somehow..strange:-)

  23. Hi,
    especially Yvette, you said it sister..I believe you are absolutely right there..”for everything real there´s always a counterfeit”. It´s no coincidance that this teaching shows up in such a measure right now,when the church is about to be transformed into her ‘new’ clothes..Like a puppet she´s going through a metamorphosis and is being released from her cockoon..ready to fly, delivered from ‘old covenant living’ chained in traditions of man, doctrines of demons etc..It´s obvious that universalism is the parallell’grace-stream’ that the enemy is trying to lead the church into..
    However..there are most certainly views, perspectives like in every other teaching that we need to be very careful in not throwing away just because it sounds ‘universalistic’..there are truths everywhere..since ‘we’ are everywhere..no matter our labeling, names of the church..We so need to KNOW the Lord now..
    What I see is a kind of ‘new language'(like in 1984) which begins to develop, where the credibility of God’s word is more and more being watered down by new forms of expression .. words .. There are a lot of ‘mistranslations’ which are now ‘detected’ .. For example, instead of talking about being born again they say ‘awakening in Christ’ The new birth, heaven and hell is all more different states of minds..
    Because Jesus ‘lives in all’ … you just need to see it, and wake up in Him, and out of your illusion .. Everything breathes boundless love and grace, but to me it is a counterfeit .. It´s very much different from God´s.
    Hope you understood my english..being a swede as I am..:-) Bless you!

  24. Hi!! I have been following this thread and discussion and I just wanted to add something simple.
    For everything ‘real’ there is always a counterfeit. Coming out of the traditions of man, doctrines of demons and legalism etc into the truth of grace (Jesus plus nothing)and we will find ourselves stumbling into the enemy’s counterfeit of grace; called universalism. It is just another twist of the truth to try push the Church back into powerlessness and lifelessness by ignoring or watering down the blood of Jesus. You cannot escape that.
    Love your posts, Andre, as well as your book!

  25. Faith is simple trust in someone other than yourself. We all have that ability to trust for we are created that way. Trusting in someone is not a gift from the one your have trust in, you simply trust in what the person is telling you to be true …. this is faith – Sammy Bilyeu from Facebook

    God created man with free will. Even in the old covenant, the Jews were told to “choose”. When the new covenant came, God did not eradicate the ability to make a choice. God draws a person by His Spirit, gives them a measure of faith to believe and works to prepare their heart. The choice might be an almost inperceptable one, but there is a spark of understanding, of receiving that happens in a person’s heart. Without that reception, there is no reconcilation by man to God – Carol Grace Robinson from Facebook

  26. The diaglogue is very intriguing and it seems the Bible is being used as a legal device rather than a guide that points to what God did in Christ. Ephesians 1:10 indicates God gathered all in the One and the One was Christ which is the mystery of His will He purposed in Himself(Eph 1:9). We in each our denominational lines say that we were crucified with Him and also raised with Him — that was the gathering and what was done for the one in the one was done for all.

    It is not that all have to touch Christ but that He–because all were in Him–have touched the all. God was exclusive in Christ alone but inclusive in that everyone was included in THE ONE.

    That is what Paul meant in Acts 4:12 There is no other name–for all were already gathered in that name. John 14:6 says “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” sounds like an exclusive statement except all were gathered in the way the truth and the life–and God was there too (2 Cor 5:19)

    We should enjoy gleaning about our God from each other and understand He still speaks to us through Holy Spirit. Each person has a part of God’s progressive truth and it is a joy to put the pieces together…..

  27. David Anthony from Facebook:

    Universalism would have you believe All are saved and it isn’t biblical.
    Those without the Holy Spirit are Not His. And are Not IN Jesus and are not KNOWN by Jesus.

    Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:38 NKJV

    Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. Rom 8:9 NKJV

    I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. John 10:14 NKJV

    Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Matthew 7:22-24 NKJV

  28. Dear Grady
    Thanks for your gracious reply. I may not believe in universalism, but I’ve really appreciated the way you’ve handled this conversation.
    Thank you for that.
    Love,
    Anneline

  29. After having my theology called “trailer trash,” I have little hope of being able to have a civil conversation here…but I tried. However, that’s not the worst I have been called. I once had a fellow tell me my eschatology was scatology. One final word from me before I abandon this conversation. I know of no Biblical Universalist who has said that we received the Holy Spirit 2000 years ago. Our redemption was paid for on the Cross 2000 years ago, but we are not the only Christians who make that point. At the Cross we were all forgiven in a LEGAL sense for all our sins–past, present, and future. However, that forgiveness becomes VITAL at the point where we realize our hopelessness apart from God and turn to Him in faith. I am not talking about the hopelessness of an eternal destination, but the hopelessness “in this world” that Paul talked about in Ephesians 2:12–“…at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God IN THE WORLD.” PAUL’S CONCERN WAS NOT ABOUT GOING TO HEAVEN WHEN YOU DIE, BUT ABOUT LIVING AN OVERCOMING, ABUNDANT LIFE IN THE HERE AND NOW. We are indeed born with a sin nature that needs to be dealt with. Those sins were paid for on the Cross, and we appropriate that blessing through faith (believing that our sins were paid for at the Cross and trusting in Jesus as the “captain of our salvation”–Hebrews 2:10). This is standard orthodox soteriology, and I subscribe to it whole-heartedly. The difference between you and me is that I believe the offer of salvation does not end at death. I believe that one can be saved by grace in this life or by judgment in the hereafter. Which brings me to Anneline’s question (comment #49). I cannot conceive of anyone coming face-to-face with the eternal reality that Jesus is Lord and not falling before Him in abject submission…which is exactly what Yahweh through Isaiah prophesied would happen. Read Isaiah 45:21-25, or go back and read it in my first comment (#39). I think that you will see that the context is that of EVERYONE being called to submit to Lord Jesus and declaring, “Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.” We all have something altogether glorious to look forward to, and whether or not you believe in universalism now, you will believe in it then! God’s best to all of you!

  30. André, I’m going to pester you on your previous post. Just to see what you think.

    Isn’t believing having faith? If you believed then surely you must have used faith? Did prophets prophecy in OT without the indwelling Spirit? Can users/workers of faith use faith without the indwelling Spirit? Because it is not just semantics, if you are saved by grace through faith and faith only comes with the HS AFTER you’ve believed(?), it is impossible to get saved then.
    In terms of being saved, what is the timeline that goes on when you are saved? I think it is applicable to the discussion and contents of this page.

    In my opinion (and I say this with very little research and is thus not the infallible word) it goes like this:
    1) Something compels you to believe. Be it a prophecy, spoken word of knowledge, someone witnessing, a healing, a miracle – something in your mind switches on and says “Hey, I know Jesus lives” / “I know I need Jesus as a saviour”. Mostly it is the goodness of God that leads man to repentance.
    2) When that switchy switched, your soul already submitted. When you confess with your mouth and believed in your heart/soul that Jesus is Lord and that God raised Him from the dead you are saved. Rom10:9
    3) Then, as seal of your salvation, you are sealed with the Holy Spirit. 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13,14; Rom. 8:16 and He inhabits you. (Don’t know where laying of hands comes into play).

    How does this apply if a person is already dead? It is only speculation if he will be able to bind himself to a thought/decisions as monumental as salvation.

    Thoughts?

  31. Faith COMES by hearing the truth, people aren’t born with it. Faith is listed as a gift of the Spirit, who starts dwelling inside people AFTER they believe the truth.

  32. A question that Universalists find very difficult to answer is this: “When did they receive the Holy Spirit?”

    Most will say: “2000 years ago.”

    This implies that they enter this world straight from their mother’s womb ALREADY filled with the Spirit. This also means that they NEVER had a sinful nature. And here is the problem:

    If they never had a sinful nature, why then are they not 100% perfect in their conduct? Why do their deeds not reflect the fact that they were NEVER under the influence of a sinful nature?

    Their answer to this will obviously be: “Because our minds are not 100% renewed yet.”

    But if they were NEVER separated from God and they NEVER had a sinful nature (according to them), what then do they need to renew their minds from? Wasn’t the Holy Spirit there every step of the way, leading them into truth?

    I’m sorry, it just doesn’t add up…

  33. Perish in NT: G622 : http://bit.ly/lKRlgC

    Absolute faith and absolute grace is like Sodium and Chloride – both are poison in isolation, but the mix of those two is vitally important for life.

    Let me explain:
    I see the infinite grace (@dr brown et al) as a pacifying notion that you can sit back and let God do the rest. Why evangelize? What about the great commission? Rob Bell and his Love Wins makes some compelling arguments, but you do win more arguments if you frame the debate yourself. So keep in mind. I’m convinced of God’s love for all mankind, I’m not convinced in man’s acceptance of Him. I’m convinced in Jesus’ finished work on the cross, I’m not convinced in that all have faith (believe) in Him. What happens after death is a very nice scapegoat to put all your pet doctrines in because how can one disprove many of such notions? Now that you see everything after you’ve kicked the bucket, will you have more faith to see what is real?

    I see the infinite faith as a manipulative Jesus removal. You manipulate God with “your faith” to “move His hand.” Don’t get healed? Call a fasting on the church. Don’t get a job? Let everyone stand and agree for finances to be loosed.
    What about Jesus? Wasn’t He stricken for our iniquities, by His stripes where we healed? Didn’t He Himself became poor so that we can be rich? Infinite faith or self faith doesn’t work, it only applies to get that which Jesus has already given you (by grace).

    But, you are saved BY grace THROUGH faith. Both parties play a role. It is not either/or, it is and… Faith appropriates that which grace has already given. Faith is the debit card and ATM, grace the bank account. Grace for the non-believer has already been deposited in his/her account (te tele stai), but the non-believer still needs faith to get that salvation.

    Thus, I reject Universalism due to this – infinite grace + infinite faith. An atheist still need faith to accept Jesus when Judgement day comes, although grace has already supplied the deliverance. The question is still – will the atheist be able/allowed to have faith when he is dead?

  34. Andre – the fact is that the truth has already been made clear to Universalists like Grady and they stubbornly refuse to repent.

    Were they not so stubborn, you comment would seal the truth. But they ain’t gonna listen.

  35. Hi Andre

    I don’t believe in Biblical Universalism but people like Grady have made it clear that they do believe you have a choice – just that it can also be after death.

    My question to Grady is… what if someone then STILL chooses not to receive Christ… what happens then?

    What is the second death? The lake of fire that swallows up the first death?

    Hey Andre, I’ve downloaded your preach – can’t wait to listen… I’m sure the SA accent will make me feel right at home :P

  36. In gym a little earlier, the Spirit reminded me of Col 2:6 “As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.”

    Now we normally use this verse to show people how it’s useless to try and conjure up the fruit of the Holy Spirit by ourselves or to illustrate that sanctification and “holy living” simply happens by faith – effortlessly. Just like we were saved apart from our own works, God sees us as righteous apart from our own works. We all know this. Now…

    Looking at it from the other direction, it’s clear that Paul is implying the following:

    Just as we walk in God (by faith, which means to make a CHOICE to yield to the Spirit in us, which is what it means to WALK IN THE SPIRIT), so you also receive Christ Jesus, which ALSO means that we have a choice in the matter!! Woooahhhh!!!

    Take that you trailer trash Universalism doctrine!!

  37. Jeremy, I am doing a truly pitiful job of conveying my understanding of ultimate reconciliation. Of course, it matters what we do, and there are serious consequences to all our actions, good or bad. Universalism sometimes is referred to as “infinite grace.” With that in mind, let me quote Romans 6:1-2: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid!” From my perspective as a Biblical universalist, I could insert the word “infinite” to make this verse applicable to the message of universalism as well as to the conventional understanding of grace. “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that INFINITE grace may abound? God forbid!” I am not trying to make the Scriptures say something that they do not say. My point is that believing in infinite grace does NOT necessarily lead to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter what you believe, say, or do. That may be the conclusion that some universalists reach, but it is certainly not my conclusion, or that of other Biblical universalists. It does matter very much what one does. Biblical universalists, like myself, believe that people are saved either by grace in this life, or by judgment in the hereafter. We believe that judgment is redemptive, not retributive, but it is judgement, or condemnation, nevertheless, and something that everyone should seek to avoid at all costs. Therefore, we consider it infinitely better to be reconciled to God through His generous offer of grace in this life rather than wait and face whatever correction His judgment will entail in the hereafter. Paul said: “Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he has built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:13-15). I believe that last phrase, “he himself shall be saved,” is one of many statements that Paul made in his writings that indicate that he was a proponent of ultimate reconciliation. Please do not think that we Biblical universalists think we have found an ideology that allows us to live any way we want just because “everybody’s gonna be saved anyway.” I, for one, believe in the “whole counsel of God” Acts 20:27. My conclusions about universalism come after over a half-century of being a diligent student of the Word of God, and trying to understand it in its entirety. Universalism is only one aspect of my personal systematic theology that I have developed (hopefully under the guidance of the Holy Spirit). Just take a look at the list of categories that I expound on at my blog–http://godtalkblog.com–and you will see that universalism is only a part of the theological package I have slowly over the years adopted in my quest for truth. Thanks for taking the time to respond to my previous comments, and I hope that this comment brings some clarification to my position.

  38. I deliberately adopted a vitriolic attitude to you Grady, since according to your views, nothing I do matters since I will be saved anyway. So I may as well hate you according to your doctrine.

    Of course, were what the bible teaches true, then what I believe would matter. But it’s doesn’t matter to you.

  39. Jeremy, I felt physical pain as I read your comments. In spite of all my wordiness, you still have not comprehended what I have been trying to say. So if I have been rendered irrelevant by my own comments, then I guess it really is pointless to writing anything more. However, you introduced another concept that has not been touched on in my previous comments–condemnation. It is not surprising that you fail to understand the redemptive aspect of judgment or condemnation as it is used in the Scriptures, since you also fail (or refuse) to see the magnitude of God’s grace. As Paul prayed for the Ephesians, “…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height — to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” Ephesians 3:17-19. Yes, you will still end up in heaven, regardless of what you might choose to call me or despite your condescending dismissal of my comments, because God’s grace is bigger than your vitriolic attitude.

  40. Grady. Thank you for the straightforward answer to my question. Given that your answer is yes, it is pointless you arguing your position since you have rendered your own position irrelevant.

    Whatever I believe, however and in whatever way different to you, I will still end up in heaven. So I may as well call you a complete tosspot, a liar and perverter of the truth. It doesn’t matter. I’ll be saved anyway.

    So all those scriptures spoken by Jesus about people being condemned were rubbish. Jesus, frankly, hasn’t a clue what he’s talking about and is a real stupid idiot.

  41. In case you haven’t noticed Grady, we’ve already discussed the above verse previously. After a war, when the conquering king takes his enemies capture, they also bow the knee to him and acknowledge him as the lord and conquerer. Yet this STILL doesn’t make them friends now, does it? In fact in most cases this only serves to fuel their hatred for the conquering king…

  42. My comment was lengthy because I’m tired of people demanding a bumper-sticker statement from universalists regarding what they believe. I tried to show that the Scriptures are replete with evidence for a different point of view that is biblically sound. The short answer to your question is “Yes!” What is it about “every knee shall bow and every tongue that Jesus is Lord to the glory of the father” that you do not understand?

  43. Dr Brown – You have written a very long piece and frankly your message may have been lost in it. Can I just ask you a simple question.

    If one dies in a position of unbelief towards Jesus, let’s say as an atheist, do they end up saved anyway regardless of their choices and decisions in this life. The consequence being that no human will suffer in hell for eternity. Yes or no will suffice.

  44. I read your article with quite a bit of disappointment—not because you have taken a stand against the teaching of Ultimate Reconciliation (UR), but rather because this teaching was misrepresented in your article. Who knows, perhaps you or your readers would view it more favorably if it were explained differently.

    Unfortunately, the word “universalism” has been defined in a number of different ways, and there are definitely some versions that need to be rejected. The Unitiarian Universalists (UU) have indeed virtually eradicated any Biblical foundation to their view of the subject to the point that those in the UU movement who still believe in Christ are a definite minority.

    A small UR group which whom I fellowship held a meeting a couple of years back at the same time that the Christian Universalist Association was conducting their meeting in the same conference center in Oklahoma City. I spoke with a UU pastor who expressed her delight at being able to attend a meeting where the name of Jesus could be freely spoken.
    Those of us who call ourselves “Christian universalists” or “Biblical universalists” have a totally different perspective. We believe that Jesus is the only One, that neither “is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

    If I may, let me in love point out some of the inaccurate statements in your article. First the accompanying “coexist” graphic is pejorative (i.e., misleading, whether intentionally or not I can’t say) and does not represent the viewpoint that I am talking about. We of the Christian UR persuasion definitely do not believe that all faiths are equally valid or that all roads lead to heaven.
    Your first statement—“Universalism is the belief that every person on the planet will be saved, whether they believe in God and want to know Him, or not”—is a totally inaccurate definition. Salvation is always by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and it is not fair to lead people to believe that Christian Universalists think that it doesn’t matter what one believes. This simply is not so!

    Your second statement—“There are some slight differences within the Universalist camp as well, such as when everybody gets saved”—is an understatement at best. The above definition may very well apply to the UU movement, but the position that Biblical Universalists hold is not just some “slight difference.” It is a very basic and profound difference when compared to the liaise faire UU approach.
    In your third statement you quote one of the most important references on this subject—Romans 14:11—but it should also be looked at in Philippians 2:9-11—“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” A couple of important emphases in this rendition include 1) the context of Jesus’ exaltation being the setting for every knee bowing and every tongue confessing, and 2) that all this brings glory to God the Father.

    But even more important is to look at the passage in Isaiah 45:21-25—
    “Tell and bring forth your case;
    Yes, let them take counsel together.
    Who has declared this from ancient time?
    Who has told it from that time?
    Have not I, the LORD?
    And there is no other God besides Me,
    A just God and a Savior;
    There is none besides Me.
    “Look to Me, and be saved,
    All you ends of the earth!
    For I am God, and there is no other.
    I have sworn by Myself;
    The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
    And shall not return,
    That to Me every knee shall bow,
    Every tongue shall take an oath.
    He shall say,
    ‘Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.’
    To Him men shall come,
    And all shall be ashamed
    Who are incensed against Him.
    In the LORD all the descendants of Israel
    Shall be justified, and shall glory.”

    Notice the context of this passage—the salvation of ALL people from the ends of the earth. Contrary to the opinion of some, that these people will bow down only when it is too late, this passage says that their confession will be, “Surely in the LORD I have righteousness and strength.” This final admission of the truth of the Good News by the lips of every person from the ends of the earth will then be the vindication (justification) of all the descendants of Israel, including both natural Israel of the Old Covenant and the new Israel of God (the Ecclesia) of the New Covenant.
    But how can this happen once someone has died? Actually, there is no place in Holy Writ that says that all hope is lost when death occurs. To the contrary, Peter described how Jesus, after His death, went to Sheol and preached to the spirits in prison. Especially name are those that perished in Noah’s Flood, possible the most depraved generation of humanity in history.

    “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water” (1 Peter 3:18-20).

    Only eight souls were saved out of that depraved generation, but grace declared, “That’s not the end of the story!” Remember that in this same context—that is, previously in this same chapter—we find these words:

    “But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:8-9).

    At the risk of wearying you with this defense of universalism, let me add one additional Scripture passage and note its particularly interesting grammatical construction:

    “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance. For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe. These things command and teach” (1 Timothy 4:9-11).

    The phrase “especially of those who believe” clearly indicates that believers are only a SUBSET of all those who will be saved. The popular worship chorus, “Come, Now Is the Time to Worship,” says it best:

    One day ev’ry tongue will confess You are God
    One day ev’ry knee will bow
    Still the greatest treasure remains for those,
    Who gladly choose You now

    This teaching is not heresy. It was the position held by the majority of the ante-Nicene Church. Of the six theological schools in existence in the second century, four of them taught Ultimate Reconciliation. This ancient truth is being revitalized in our day, and it is exciting to see the heresy of eternal conscious torment being refuted, not because some people just don’t want to believe the orthodox teaching, but rather on the basis of solid Scriptural exegesis. Those interested in reading more on this and other theological topics are invited to visit my website, http://godtalkblog.com.

    Yours because His,
    Dr. Grady Brown

  45. Ok, I’d like to add something in to the mix. I’ve been reading the debate. Let’s just keep it kind toward each other ok. This is where we want to see Love Win ;)

    Here are my thoughts:

    Adam ate the fruit and death came to ALL… ALL who were his seed. Every child, every person originates from him.

    Jesus came as the Last Adam, His sacrifice means life to ALL men – all of His seed. If Jesus married and had children, they would automatically have that life. But all who are Adam’s seed need to be born again – born of God – becoming God’s seed. In being His seed, we get His life.

    Make sense?

    Smiles,
    A

  46. David – if you’re right then us being wrong is irrelevant. Interestingly, like many hypocrites, you object to us thinking we’re right for the simple reason that YOU refuse to admit that maybe it’s you who is wrong.

    I must make sure not to accidentally friend you on facebook.

  47. Thanks Andre
    What a lame article. Are you serious? That sure puts a lot of things in perspective.lol

    For the record, I am not a universalist, I don’t read or care much about their doctrine. All the ‘lake of fire’ and ‘age enduring’ stuff is not for me. Although they do say some interesting stuff. I’m interested in the gospel, the one that says Jesus is Lord and Savior of ALL. The one that says –
    Rom 5:18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.

    Pity we could not connect.
    Maybe another time :-)

    so long!

  48. Oh come on David – surely you can do better than try to appeal to our sympathetic side here?

    We’ve clearly shown you the pitfalls of your little pet doctrine, yet you still cling to it – therefore please don’t get frustrated with the rest of us for not wanting to follow you down that road to nowhere ;-)

    Maybe you would be able to find a more welcoming audience on some Universalism site somewhere.

    Regarding Acts 2, this was not the fulfilment of Joel’s prophesy – this link ought to explain it to you pretty well.

    http://www.letusreason.org/Biblexp100.htm

    So long David!

  49. I doubt anyone here wants to be associated with a view that is atheism, manipulating, wasting it’s time, has a bad smell, is in fundamental error, is making God out to be a rapist, equal to gnosticism, regards it’s own views higher than scripture, uses vain imagination, makes blasphemous, spurious remarks, and has wolves as followers.
    When those saying these things are lauded for their handling of the debate, is it possible there’s a small ‘blindspot’?
    I don’t see myself as a universalist, but there’s simply nothing I can do about being labelled one. If you believe Jesus is the Savior of the world(not the potential Savior) you are automatically one, no matter what you say. And you get to deal with an attitude from ‘grace’ brothers that honestly is no different to that which one encounters from the worst of law circles. Actually law brothers would join forces with one view here.
    Andre, what about Acts 2:16,17?
    Any gymnastics? How do you explain away this ‘ALL’?
    Is there simply no possibility that you could be wrong?
    You do realize you are contending for your own faith to be acknowledged, that has as a consequence many being cut off and suffering forever?!

  50. Andre, I see you and Brian have defriended me on fb. I assume for you this must mean ‘end of debate’.

    When you ‘received’ Christ, did He come into you from outside of you, or was He in you already?
    Consider the following verses –
    Gal 1:15 But when it pleased God, …. Gal 1:16 to reveal His Son in me….
    Col 1:26 the mystery which has been hidden.., but now has been revealed…..
    Col 1:27 …. is Christ in you,……
    ‘Christ in you’ was ‘hidden’ and is now ‘revealed’ to the saints(those who believe).
    Paul never teaches Christ ‘enters’ you in acknowledgement of your faith.
    Yes, when you first ‘received’ the gospel you were sealed BY the Holy Spirit of promise,(the word ‘with’ is misleading) Many just assume the seal IS the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is not a seal, He is God!
    Yes, in Acts it says He had not ‘fallen upon’ them yet. But ‘fallen’ in the Greek means ‘take possession of’ or ‘seize’. Is it possible that our preconceived notion that He ‘falls’ from the sky into or upon us maybe affecting how we see this?

    How do you understand Peter’s statement here –
    Act 2:16 But THIS IS that which was spoken by the prophet Joel: (my emphasis)
    Act 2:17 “And it shall be in the last days, says God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon ALL FLESH.” (my emphasis)
    Surely Andre, the Holy Spirit got it wrong here, He must mean – ‘in the last days I will (only) pour out My Spirit on (those who receive/believe in Me)’
    Why does he say ALL flesh? Andre, this is clear scripture, verified by Jesus Himself (Luke 24:44)
    And ‘ALL FLESH’ is there in the HEBREW and the GREEK.
    Is all flesh not all flesh, Andre?

  51. DOES LOVE WIN? By Dick Eugenio

    I could no longer ignore the ongoing debates surrounding the concept of universalism in my cyber life, so I hope to join the DIALOGUE (not the damaging skirmish among people with poisonous pens/keyboards). This is admittedly an initial, pre-emptive response, waiting for fuller development until Rob Bell’s book “Love Wins” makes it to my library. My only intention, for now, is to show how “Love Wins” can lead to universalism, in the general context of the relationship between love and salvation. I offer three models of understanding how Love is supposedly to win.

    Firstly, there is a non-coercive Love leading to salvation. The liberal theologian Hastings Rashdall promoted this view, calling it Moral Influence Theory. Rashdall quotes Peter Abailard’s commentary on the epistle to Romans:

    “Now it seems to us that we have been justified by the blood of Christ and reconciled to God in this way: through this unique act of grace manifested to us—in that his Son has taken upon himself our nature and persevered therein in teaching us by word and example even unto death—he has more fully bound us to himself by love; with the result that our hearts should be enkindled by such a gift of divine grace, and true charity should not now shrink from enduring anything for him.”

    Basically, the argument is this: By dying on the cross, the amazing depth and width of Christ’s love is manifested, “with the result that our hearts should be enkindled,” leading for us to finally say “Yes!” to God. The rhetoric is this: “Who would not be moved by such a display of selfless love?!” Of course everyone knows that this model of “non-coercive, but powerfully persuasive love” winning the hearts of everyone is highly idealistic. The painful reality is that the world seems to be rejecting this wonderful display of affection, rather than being moved to following Christ. In short, this seems to be a failed model for love to win in the end. I hope this is not the model that Bell is promoting.

    The second model is more of a coersive love triumphing over everything and everyone, but it could have two forms. The first variant of “Love wins” is strictly tied to the concept of God’s sovereign power, or of God’s Omnipotence. This means that in the end, it is the Will of God to save everyone that will be realized, with or without the consent of contingent human freedom. Because God is All-Powerful, his Love will triumph over all. Hmmmm… Need I explain the fallacy of this model?

    The second variant is grounded in the nature of God as Love. This means that if God’s nature is Love, then to allow hell to exist or to allow people to eternally suffer is contrary to God’s nature; hence, God will ultimately be true to his nature as Love and redeem everyone. This model is a bit more difficult to refute, and I suspect that Bell’s main arguments are grounded in this model. But the weakness of this line of thought is that it compromises the freedom of God, and impiously imprisons God using God’s own nature as the limiting cage. What it misses is that God’s Love and Freedom are tied together, that is, that God’s Freedom is his Freedom to Love. Furthermore, this model seems to postulate an eternal higher moral principle called “Love” that God has no choice but to obey. Again, this model is self-contradictory.

    (There could be other foundations for universalism, such as universal election, single predestination, Christocentricism, etc., but I only sought to discuss Bell’s two words: “Love Wins”. As I hinted, the two models above are self-collapsing. But if I discuss universalism in terms of the vicarious Person and Work of Christ, my responses would be radically different.)

  52. Hey guys! Great article! Great dialogue!
    Let me tag a thought or two.

    As a Pastor, I never want any of our people to believe any doctrine that comprimises the integrity of the individuals response to God. Love always gives a choice and if Universalism were true then the Apostle Paul would not had been so passionate as to get the message out and eventually give his own life for the gospel to be heard. The Gospel always provokes a response of some kind.

    I do not believe everyone will end up in Heaven simply because God desires this. I think any true believer would wish for Universalism to be true simply because it would mean no one would be lost. Anyone who somewhere in there hearts that doesnt wish God has some way of saving everyone needs to encounter the love of God some more. I am a hopeful Universalist in that sense. As any Dad would, I would not want a single child of mine lost and would go to all lengths to see this through.

    However, Romans 5 still blows my mind in that what Adam did was “universal” and Paul says what Jesus did was greater than first adam. What does that mean? Can we know right now? Wow! We never want to give Adam a more effective position over the human race than the Second Person of the Trinity!

    Also, 2 Cor 5 says the entire world has been reconciled to God,but now we as ministers of reconciliation implore people to BE reconciled. This is the subjective response to the objective reality.

    Also remember that from day 1, Jesus was the perfect human response to God. Every step he made was for us and AS US as our substitute, not just on the cross. He offered perfect love, worship, obedience and presented himself spotless in our name so we could come in his name. The Incarnation was atonement, not just one event in the life of Jesus and the fact that there is forever a Man/Mediator wearing Adams skin, face to face before the Father secures the covenant of Grace for all of humanity forever. God set it up as a Unilateral Covenant- God-moved towards man and God as man moved towards God for all of us. We only make a decision for Christ becaues he already made it for us. Although all humans have free will, we are so warped we cannot escape our self will exept by the work of the Holy Spirit.

    When do people get born again? When are we saved? In one sense we were saved from eternity past in the heart of God and the lamb slain was before the foundaiton of the world. In another sense, we were saved through the vacarious life and death of Jesus and then we were “saved” when our eyes were opened to this amazing grace revealed in Christ.

    Could there be a time for decisions after we die? Maybe, maybe not. We dont really know do we. I do know that if through Adam man were lost, through Jesus many more are saved. I guess I am a Universalist in the sense that the obedience of Jesus affected humanity universally. I am not a Universalist if that means no matter what we decide, we end up in heaven. Lucifer saw God and still chose to turn his back on Him. Lucifer was in heaven and chose to get out. Mind blower!

    Also, Jesus sustains all things- not just believers. Someone doesnt invite Jesus into ones life. He was there long before the decision was made. Jesus is the light of the world/cosmos, not just the christian church. No one exists, not even unbelievers expet but jesus sustaining them and in him all things are held together. (Col 1) All of humanity is wrapped up in him, not just believers but everyone that has ever been or will be. Greek thought makes people view the world or physical outside of God. Truth is, we have all been moving and living in him to some degree before we ever had a thought about him. THe earth is already full of his glory according to angels! (Isaiah 6) Shoot some objections to this if someone wants. Its a healthy thing to open up the conversation on these matters.

  53. Matt 25:46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into everlasting life.

    All the clever gymnastics that the Universalists perform with the scriptures walk away with a bloody nose from this one.

    They interpret the Greek word AIONIOS which is used for “everlasting” as “age abiding” and the Greek word KOLASIS which is used for “punishment” as “purification”. The first part of this verse could then be interpreted to say “age abiding purification” which means that all the unbelievers will be purified at the “end of this age”.

    There comes a massive problem however if you wish to stay consistent with this translation of AIONIOS in the second part of this verse. Because it would then mean that the righteous ones will only be receiving “age abiding” life, which of course is rubbish.

  54. And just in case you wondered about whether there will be a waiting room after this life where people get another chance to choose Jesus:

    We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life. We also believe that when God brings Jesus back again, he will bring with him ALL WHO HAD FAITH IN JESUS BEFORE THEY DIED. (1 Thes 4:14 CEV)

  55. To believe that everybody has already been saved is to believe that the resurrection of the dead has already happened:

    2Tim 2:16 But shun profane, vain babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat like a gangrene; among whom are Hymeneus and Philetus, 18 who have erred concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past, and who overthrow the faith of some.

  56. There are many verses that say we need to BELIEVE in order to be saved, which places a condition on salvation:

    Because if you confess the Lord Jesus, AND BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses unto salvation. (Rom 10:9-10 MKJV)

    We believe that Jesus died and was raised to life. We also believe that when God brings Jesus back again, he will bring with him ALL WHO HAD FAITH IN JESUS BEFORE THEY DIED. (1 Thes 4:14 CEV)

    EVERYONE WO BELIEVES that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God. (1 John 5:1a MKJV)

    Jesus said to her, I am the Resurrection and the Life! HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME, though he die, yet he shall live. (John 11:25 MKJV)

    For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16 MKJV)

    He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but HE WHO DOES NOT BELIEVE WILL BE CONDEMNED. (Mark 16:16 MKJV)

    And they said, BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST AND YOU SHALL BE SAVED, and your household. (Act 16:31 MKJV)

    In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, AND BELIEVED IN HIM, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit (Eph 1:13 ESV)

    HE WHO BELIEVES ON THE SON HAS EVERLASTING LIFE, and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him. (John 3:36 MKJV)

    And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son AND BELIEVES ON HIM should have everlasting life. And I will raise him up at the last day. (JOHN 6:40 MKJV)

    But these are written so that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, AND THAT BELIEVING YOU MIGHT HAVE LIFE in His name. (John 20:31 MKJV)

    …but God was merciful to me in order that Christ Jesus might show his full patience in dealing with me, the worst of sinners, as an example for ALL THOSE WHO WOULD LATER BELIEVE IN HIM AND RECEIVE ETERNAL LIFE. (1 Tim 1:16 GNB)

  57. Andre,

    Thanks for this post! I have been increasingly concerned about the new draw toward universalism within the grace community. Called by any other name, it smells as bad.

    As I have studied the idea that all are saved already (or will be saved in the end) I have begun to realize that the fundamental error is the focus on what Jesus has done for us, rather than on Him. The gifts of the Lord are wonderful and needed, but they are not the Giver. He offers Himself in relationship – and that’s what salvation is.

    I have written a series of blog posts on this issue, without naming it or those involved. My goal is simply to present logical and Scriptural evidence for the traditional perspective.

    My final(?) post on this (coming Monday) asks, “Can someone be saved and not know it?” The real question is whether someone can be saved and not want it. Check it out at: http://www.graceformyheart.wordpress.com

    Graham tweaks the issue a little differently than some. He suggests that there may be an opportunity after death. I would suppose that standing before God in the day of judgment would influence a persons perspective.;) However, this is conjecture on his part. As Jeremy points out, there is no Scriptural indication of this and, I would add, no Christian denomination I know of holds this to be their theology.

    It is good to know that God is calling people from around the world to stand against this increasingly popular error. Thanks again.

    Dave

  58. Have you noticed the striking similarities between Gnosticism and Universalism??

    Gnosticism: The belief that sin doesn’t exist (and people therefore don’t need to be born again) and that by attaining a certain level of conscious awareness called “Gnosis” you are freed from the bondage and limitations of the material world.

    Universalism: The belief that everybody in the world is saved (and therefore don’t need to be born again) and people simply need to attain a “conscious awareness” that they are free from the bondage and limitations of the material world.

    Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

  59. When one asks a straightforward question and the person avoids answering, you know that they are manipulating. QED.

    You can try again Graham. You clearly cannot find three scriptures to support your view or you would have done so, assuming you have some integrity.

    Please either give scripture to show that your beliefs come from the bible, not just your own vain imagination or stop wasting our time writing spurious arguments on these blogs.

    I am annoyed with you because my quesstion was an honest attempt to understand and consider your point of view and you treated me with discurtesy.

  60. Jeremy: as i’ve said a couple times already, i’m not trying to make you believe anything. you need to decide what you percieve as truth – i have my veiws, which i have posted here for the purpose of discussion. I could quote the bible supporting my veiw, and you could quote supporting your veiw, but its pointless. love always wins :)

  61. Graham – do you think you could back up your answer with three scriptures for me. I do have this need to get my opinions from scripture, not from what people think. If you can’t, then you’ve been wasting your time talking on this blog, because you won’t get me to agree with your opinions, just scripture.

  62. Andre, great article! And in the ensuing dialog, I admire you and the others for the level-headed, calm-headed debate and for sticking to the points. I debated universalism with others for almost a decade, on and off, and as hard as I truly tried to stick only to the points, it never failed that others ended up resorting to juvenile name-calling and nitpicking on tiny errors in grammar, etc. So I applaud you for staying focused and ‘civilized.’ :D

  63. andre:
    1.) yes, definately – the issue is whether or not you can do this after you die – i say yes.
    2.) i’ve heard stories of atheists dying, meeting god, then coming back to life and being christians. so definately many people would. I also think that daniel is clear in his prophecy that some people will still choose death over God. thats their choice – God doesn’t want them to, but love requires a choice – you cant force someone to love you.

    comment on 2timothy. The bible was not around when paul wrote this – ‘scripture’ refers to the old testaments law and prophets. You cannot take this and use it to say God made the bible. I believe the stuff recorded in the bible, because its clear that those guys had a relationship with god, and God used them. But consider that books written by guys like Enoch were excluded from the bible because the compilers thought it was too “spiritual”, and didnt agree with their doctrines based on personal veiws.

    what is truth? Jesus is truth. the bible is about jesus and points to jesus, but it is not jesus.

  64. Hi Graham

    2 Questions:

    1) So you admit that they WILL need to make a choice?
    2) If a person knows about God, Jesus and they have heard about the cross – even maybe went to see “Passion of the Christ” or heard the gospel from someone, but they still reject having a relationship with Him, why do you think they would change their mind after they are dead?

    And I’ll restate my last comment: Would God put HIMSELF through the cross in the hope that maybe people would change their opinion of Him? And if that were really His purpose, why have more than 5 Billion of the people currently on the planet not changed their minds about Him yet?

    I feel your heart man, I really do, but I can’t get myself to ignore large parts of scripture to make God fit in with my view of Him – that’s making up our own God.

    All Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfected, thoroughly furnished to every good work. (2 Tim 3:16-17, MKJV)

    Sorry if the rest of us regard truth higher than our own personal views and experiences… I think you’ll understand, won’t you?

    Lastly,

  65. jeremy: if either of them chooses to be in relationship with God – then yes. I’m saying it makes no difference whether you make that choice now or after you die.

    Andre: I think you may be overlooking the fact that jesus was 100% God. God put himself through the cross. Jesus is not a separate person trying to make right with God on our behalf. Jesus is the manifestation of God’s love on earth.
    I’m signing out on this post unless anyone asks me a question, which i’d be more than happy to reply to :)

  66. I predicted Graham’s previous answer in my message- check it out ;-)

    Why would God put His Son through all the anguish of dying on a cross if He was going to save everybody in any case? Universalists answer this last question by saying that the purpose of the cross was to show the depth of God’s love towards mankind, to illustrate the profundity of what God would do for us. But would the Father really have His Son slaughtered like that if all it accomplished was just to have people change their “opinion” of Him? Of course not! Jesus died on that cross to end the Old Covenant that God had entered into with Israel – the only way to get out of a covenant is for one of the parties to die. And with Christ’s death a New Covenant was written with blood, extending the offer of salvation to the entire world, in fact to anyone who would simply believe in Christ.

  67. Graham – a simple question which you can hopefully answer simply. Because I’m finding your long comments hard to understand.

    If someone dies having rejected Jesus like, for example, Richard Dawkins, or a Muslim suicide bomber, do they end up in heaven regardless?

  68. Ditas: cool post!
    I don’t think its a good idea for me to answer that on here :) it would only lead to fearce debate :-)

    I would like to throw out the suggestion that Jesus’ death is merely the DISPLAY of god’s love that was eternally present. I understand that it forms the ‘legal payment for sins’ and all that from the jewish perspective of things. Most of the new testament writings were to people who understood the jewish system, and who lived under it. It shows things from their point of reference.

    John says that the cross was the greatest act of love. God, being the very person of love, chooses to display his love in the greatest way known to man – which, according to john, is by giving up your life for your friends / loved ones.

    I really believe we should not get into theologies of sin being attached to people like its some sort of substance, and stuff like that, but rather focus on what counts; that is, God’s love for his beloved children – i.e mankind. In my experience, the only thing that truly changes people is an encounter with the love of God – nothing else matters.

    The whole idea of certain people being righteous, and certain people not being righteous is really pursuing the knowledge of good and evil. it is the human system of judging right and wrong, and who is better than who, that God clearly showed us as being irrelevant to him at the cross.

    this might be a bit wierd to you, but i’m okay with that :)

  69. Graham’s comment is quite interesting, and it’s really making me think what could make Christ’s obedience greater than Adam’s sin.

    Could it possibly be the “choice” factor? Adam’s sin soiled all of the human race, born of his flesh. Jesus said “whosoever believes in (the Son) shall not perish” and that “you must be born again…whatever is born of the flesh is flesh, whatever is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Could it be possible that, just as birth into Adam’s race is what qualified us to be counted in Adam’s disobedience, the birth into Christ’s race – spirit birth, what Jesus said becoming born again of the Spirit – is what will qualify us to be counted in Jesus’ obedience? Jesus did not have children like Adam did to inherit His obedience, just as Adam’s children inherited his disobedience. It seems the only way we can appropriate Jesus’ obedience that leads to righteousness is to be “born again”: choosing to believe in Him and His finished work on our behalf. Choosing to be reborn by His Spirit. Not everyone is born of the Spirit of Jesus, so not everyone can be credited with His obedience and righteousness. It is not less than Adam’s sin in this sense, where it requires being born into the family. But it is greater because the benefits are way greater than what we got from Adam. Adam gave us separation from God and death. Jesus reconciles us to God and gives us abundant, reigning life on earth, and eternal life in the very presence of God after. It is greater because it is more gracious: Adam didn’t give us a choice. Jesus does. Isn’t democracy preferable to communism? Aren’t parents who force their will on their children who are legally of age by making them dependent on them seen as manipulative, controlling, psychotic?

    Can you imagine having a choice to be born into the family of your choosing? Isn’t that one fact alone a greater thing than what Adam gave us whether we like it or not?

    My one question to Graham is: what would happen if a person decides NOT to have a relationship with God, after he dies?

    I agree that God doesn’t give up on people throughout their lives, I have seen it with my own eyes. But the bible says “It is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27) Judgment. Not more time to make a choice. Not more time for God to beg and woo. Judgment. The idea that after death, one still has a chance for heaven is the mindset behind purgatory. Jesus mentions heaven and hell, but not purgatory. Because if there is a place where we can be “purged” of our and Adam’s sin after we die…then Jesus’ death was totally unnecessary.

  70. Great article!!

    If universalism (everyone is saved) is true, then it completely removes the need to go and fulfill the great commission (evangelism), Jesus said in matt 28:19 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations,baptizing them..etc”

    What is the need for disciples, or even, what was the purpose of the life of Jesus on earth if universalism is true (everyone is saved)? If universalism is true Jesus could have simply come to earth, and died on a cross. Why then get disciples, why train them, why teach what he did? Why grow up as a human, why?

  71. we were created out of love, for relationship. John, who knew jesus better than anyone it seems, came to the conclusion that “God is Love (agape)”.
    It’s more than a character trait, as this is used as a noun – it doesn’t describe God; it says who he IS – God IS Love.

    Everything he does is out of a place of love, because that’s who he is. Paul describes love, recorded in 1 corinthians, as being patient, kind, unfailing, keeping no record of wrongs, etc. He also uses the word agape – therefore, these are more than just aspects of love he is referring to, but they are aspects of God. God is patient, god is kind, God is unfailing, god keeps no record of wrongs, etc…

    “agape” is perfect love – and God remains the same forever. If he keeps no record of wrongs, he never kept record of wrongs. if he is patient, he is forever patient.

    My assessment of the world is based on God’s character – not on what is compiled into the bible. If you examine His nature, which is mirrored throughout the bible, you see thats it’s not like God to block someone from relationship with him for any reason. That’s what i base my theology on – not as a quote out of something written by someone eles, but on my experience of God, out of my relationship with him.

    I take a team to a new age fair in westville every few months, and many of them hear from God – even though they don’t know who he is. They have a relationship with him more real than most christians.

    Traditional christian “theology” would condemn these people to eternal suffering.
    When will we stop pursuing the knowledge of good and evil??

    sorry for spamming your blog – im not trying to argue, but just throwing stuff out there :-)

    shot for all your posts bro – they are really good and i enjoy reading them – keep them coming! :D

    Graham

  72. This is another very common argument for the Universalist view Graham ;-(

    Yes Christ’s work did reverse what Adam did, but it only becomes a reality in the lives of those who believe. It is definitely possible for someone to reject Christ’s finished work.

    Could you please back up your statement about “God never giving up on someone” with scripture if you would be so kind?

    I believe that by the same token as your argument, we can not assume unbelievers will suddenly change their darkened hearts and minds about God if they see Him in person. They might realize they were wrong, but nowhere do we have a guarantee that they will repent.

  73. Here’s an interesting thought:

    According to theology, an unsaved person is not condemned according to their sin, but because of Adam’s – romans 4-5. The whole world is guilty because of the tresspass of the one man.

    On the other hand, we are reconciled to god by the obedience of the one man (christ).

    So, if by adam’s disobedience, the whole world is condemned, and by the obedience of christ, only those who have faith are reconciled to God, then you are saying that what adam did is greater than what jesus did.

    the concept of original sin is universalism, just in the negative. if what christ did is equal to what adam did, it must equate to universalism in the positive. yet, what christ did is so much greater than what adam did!!

    I am by no means advocating new age thinking – there is only one god, and the way to him is through his love (christ is the manifestation of gods love).

    However, i believe the only choice anyone needs to make is whether they would like to be in relationship with god or not – whether they make it in this life or on the ‘day of judgement’ is irrelevant. God is infinite love – he is therefore infinitely patient, kind, etc – he will NEVER give up on anyone, whether through life or death.

  74. I have to say that I haven’t come across these particular teachings. Far more I find teaching that sins are only forgiven subject to certain acts that we do. For example asking forgiveness, confession, repentance (I mean the ENglish definition not the greek metanoeo). And only past sins forgiven christians, leaving unconfessed and future sins as an outstanding issue.

    Teaching that says christians remain as sinners who can, in effect, top up their forgiveness and get re-cleansed – but then go and get sinned up again and thus spend their lives in a soiled condition.

    I know you’re not addressing those issues in the comment, but those are the errors I come across every day. Not universalism.

  75. Yep! Pandora’s Box for sure! Personally I’d rather just not go there! But thanks for the heads up.

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