Universalism- a Problem for Everyone
The writer of Hebrews says, “Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits” (Heb. 6:1-3).
As Christians one of the first things that should be settled are the basics. The doctrine of judgment is one of the basic teachings in Christianity. This would include salvation through the death and resurrection of Christ and the judgment for those who refuse the gospel. Traditional Protestant/evangelical and Biblical theology teaches man is separated from God by sin and destined for hell, that he needs to believe in Jesus Christ’s work on the cross (ie. the gospel) as the ONLY way to be saved and go to heaven.
Today we are seeing the Church become seeker friendly, so much so that a universalist view on salvation is becoming accepted. Called by various names such as the “Wider Mercy Doctrine,” “The Gospel of Inclusion,” it presupposes that salvation can be given to a person who has not heard the gospel or of Jesus Christ. Those who hold this view teach that God grants salvation to those who are sincere in their religious beliefs, no matter how false those beliefs are. This of course has been a held position of most of the world religions that already do not believe there is any one way to God. The end result is that not just those who believe in the gospel will be in heaven but many who only believe in God.
The unity that many desperately are now seeking is expanding to acceptance of other religions. Ecumenism is one of the major means the New Age movement intends to lead those who may not be willing to co-operate on an interfaith level. With the acceptance of other religions comes a universal view of mankind. A good portion of Christianity is already on the road of being brought together under a false unity that excludes doctrine, so it is not surprising to see individuals and denominations willing to first merge with other compatible religions. As the barriers are let down incompatible religions will become the next step. For Christians it starts by uniting with Roman Catholicism’s moral agenda, what many don’t know is that Catholicism teaches that, “The plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator, in the first place amongst whom are the Muslims; these profess to hold the faith of Abraham” (Catholic Catechism). The Pope unites in prayer and effort with Hinduism, the traditional African religions of animism, he acknowledges Buddhism and approves of the Dalai Lama who is regarded as a living deity. If you are involved in ecumenism you’re already connected to this. Ecumenism unchecked leads to interfaith which will eventually move the church into universalism.
Universalism teaches that all religions are worshipping the same God in different ways. This is what is known as syncretism. Some are teaching there are Messianic Muslims, that they can accept certain aspects of Jesus and still go back to practice Islam. Others say that God was in various cultures before Christianity and these cultures had a valid concept of God. That Christ reaffirms what they have known in their cultures practice. What is proposed is that no matter which religion is practiced, there are some common denominators we can unite and agree on, that they all have different roads that lead to the same destination. There are many who call themselves Christians that are moving toward a universalist view of mankind, where we can accept anyone’s God as the same God of the Scripture claiming we do not worship different Gods but the same one by different names. Accepting other religions as valid under the auspices of “all of us are worshipping the same God,” with different names is self-contradicting. The differences of religion are like different species. You can’t say a bird is a dog even though it may eat similar food. A whale may be a mammal but not like a human is a mammal. A car is not the same as a plane though they both may both run on fuel. What I’m trying to say is that there are differences in religion that cannot be overlooked, in both their mechanism of practice as well as defining God’s nature.
Popular best selling new age author Neale Donald Walsch writes “There is only one message that can change the course of human history forever, end the torture, and bring you back to God. That message is The New Gospel: WE ARE ALL ONE.” (Neale Donald Walsch Friendship with God, an uncommon dialogue, 1999 p. 373)
This new gospel is no gospel at all, it is condemned as another false gospel by the apostle Paul who delivered the true one along with the other apostles.
The promotion of today’s modern spirituality of there not being one path to God, but many is not what God says in the Bible, and it is made very clear by numerous statements. Universalism in the church is the natural outcome of liberalism. In the process of opening the door in the name of tolerance we end up accepting practices that oppose the Bibles clear teachings on the basics.
Universalism affirms that all people will be saved. Within this belief system the concepts of hell and punishment are rejected as inconsistent with a loving God. People often want to do away with a concept that they cannot understand. There are many things in the Bible we cannot understand; we can’t really understand how God spoke and the universe leapt into existence! But this does not stop one from accepting the fact from one who was there and passed it on. In the secular world the majority of people do not know how electricity works or why but they accept it in their everyday lives. What we can understand from the bible we can know is true therefore it is not a blind leap to accept the things we may not fully understand. The premise for all this is the authority of the Scriptures being God inspired. Ask some questions and you will find that most of those spearheading this movement are committed to a liberal view point and do not hold to the infallibility or inerrancy of the Bible.
As tolerance becomes a major underlying influence in the church many do not want to deal with the harsh fact that people are going to go hell. Universalism is going to have to be addressed, as there is a growing renegade movement in the church that is out to convince us to believe that ALL will be saved no matter what their belief is of God.
While the gospel has a universal call, it does not teach universal salvation. The gospel is the heart of Christianity it is the very reason the Son of God became man. We have a responsibility to evangelize; Jesus said to go into all the world; teach others what He taught. If universalism was His belief there would be no need for this command. Universalism has no hell, only heaven, if this is true there is nothing to worry about for anyone. If universalism is true we no longer need to preach the gospel. Let me ask you, who wants the church to stop preaching the gospel? I can tell you, it’s not God who has inspired this message; it is another gospel, a false belief of Jesus Christ. It is a trump card of Satan who opposes the things of God, especially the gospel as the only means of saving people from their sin.
In this article I would like us to look at the arguments and the usage of scripture by the Universalist to see if they truly understand the Bibles position on man, God, sin, and the consequences of sin. Many Universalists are claiming to be Christian. This becomes an oxymoron, because to be a true Christian one must believe that Jesus is the only way to be rescued from their condition of sin.
The true gospel is prompted by love, showing God’s mercy, He does not want to show anger or judgment toward us so he has taken the initiative. However if the gospel is rejected He has no choice but to judge. Some people think Jesus is all love and forgiveness and he would never bring harm to anyone, nor send anyone to Hell. Everyone is going to heaven because of God’s love. They are dead wrong; Jesus said so. God is holy and just and He must punish sin. He does this by rejecting the sinner who does not repent. It is for this reason God sent His Son to die for sin. The Lamb of God demonstrated God’s love in His first coming, but Jesus is coming back the second time as the lion from the tribe of Judah to judge all the earth. It will not be pleasant for all people, as he establishes His kingdom on earth.
In Christianity Universalism can be traced for the most part to an early church father named Origen (182- 251 AD). much like today’s Catholic purgatory, he taught that the unsaved are tortured in Hell temporarily, with a series of graded punishments. When they are sufficiently cleansed they can be accepted into Heaven. He believed that God would receive all people (even demons) into heaven. This is the historical Universalist belief. It was condemned as a heresy in the early church and should be condemned today.
These beliefs formed a major part of the beliefs of the Universalist church (which merged into the Unitarian Universalist association. John Murray (1741-1815), can be attributed to be the father of modern organized Universalism. He stated that everyone is eventually saved and is welcomed into heaven. He believed that Christ had made full payment for all men and that at the judgment all unbelief in God's mercy would vanish and blessings would begin for all.
People can’t stand hearing about Jesus Christ and his message of salvation in conversation with you and these same people are going to be in heaven with us praising God for his work? Does this make sense?
Researcher and apologist Al Dager writes, Traditional universalism has long been regarded as a major heresy that has inserted itself into the modern Christian consciousness as a result of liberal theological adherents. “Christian universalism” seeks a middle ground between biblical salvation through conscious surrender to Christ, and traditional universalism. In other words God will save those who believe in Christ as well as those who do not. We may have different positions in the end but all will be saved.
Some say Universalism is simply a non-essential doctrine of error and does not make one a non-Christian to believe it. But is it? If everyone is going to be accepted, then one has to ask on what basis. Christian Universalists state by the atonement of Jesus, he brings reconciliation between God and all people throughout history. This reconciliation will occur regardless of whether they have trusted in or rejected Jesus as savior during their lifetime.
People come to these conclusions because they do not realize how devastating sin is and how helpless man is in countering its affects. Only the strongest in spirit can deter some of its influences but none can release themselves from its captivity or consequences. It takes nothing less than the sinless Son of God’s death on the cross. Jesus said “He is the way the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by him,” He is the narrow gate. One of the criteria for what makes one a Christian is wholeheartedly believing this. There is no such thing as a Christian being a universalist, it is an oxymoron. How can a Universalist claim to be a Christian if salvation is by faith in the Son of God’s work on the cross and acceptance of the true and living God through the one Savior, Jesus Christ. To say there are other ways to receive the gospel and following Him is to deny all that He said. To be a Christian one must admit their sinfulness and rely on Christ’s atoning work as the only cure for their sinful condition. As Christians we must have agreement in the essential doctrines that unite all Christians and all denominations in the one true God, yet we are allowed to have differences of opinions in the non-essentials. Universalism deals with an essential doctrine of Christianity, it cannot be put in a non-essential category.
When you adopt universalism you are denying the gospel. Then it makes no difference if Christ died for sin, we would do just fine with other religious systems without him. Jesus only added another way to God equal to the many ways already there. Those who accept what is also called the “Wider Mercy Doctrine” are ignoring the clear teaching of Jesus Christ who said to believe and follow Me. By accepting this they must also reject those who are true believers, that are His sheep who are led by the Shepherd who claim Jesus is the only way to know God.
The Universalist are people do not want to enter the fold by means of the door which is Christ, but want to allow for people to enter other ways (as if it is up to their broad minded view). John 10:9-14 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.” Jesus himself said “if you enter ANY OTHER WAY you are a thief and a robber” He goes on to say “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”
Jesus does not accept any other way, in fact He makes this exclusive statement of Himself in John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This seems to be quite exclusive at least according to Jesus’ own words, but again we find that most do not want to take his words to mean what he said but fiddle with them to mean something else. We need to understand that Christian Universalists use certain words, but change the concepts and meanings. To know its context is essential to bring one to a correct understanding of doctrine in Scripture. Modernism, post-modernism denies the existence of objective truth and its applicational meaning. It is a direct attack on Christianity as we know it. The universal doctrine is a challenge to the nature of God and what He has revealed to us in the Scripture. Despite the few scriptures used by Universalists, they must reinterpret the clear ones by the unclear and isolated texts, thereby changing the meanings of both.
Simply put Paul says by grace through faith we are saved. The Universalists takes out the faith part to make it say by grace you are saved and nothing more. All the “whosoever will” passages become meaningless if everyone makes it in the end.
This philosophy becomes the very opposite practice of those who go beyond the gospel such as the aberrant groups and cults who add baptism and other works of obedience to be saved and often make it sometime in the future. Universalists subtract the Biblical conditions and necessary components and present a shell of the gospel and call it good news.
It ends up that the Universalists hold to the idea that those rejecting Jesus receive the same benefits as those who accept Him. However Jesus said Mt. 7:13-15: “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.” Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.” Jesus is not saying all will make it, not even many. He said at another time making it even clearer “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Luke 13:24). Strive has the concept to agonize to get in, in other words repentance is a key part of receiving eternal life.
Notice Jesus said-few who find it. Therefore not many get saved- certainly not all, but a few. So Jesus did not teach that all will be saved.
The Doing Away of Punishment for sin and hell after death
So how do they arrive at a universal salvation for those who do not believe the gospel? This Gospel of Inclusion states: all are forgiven for the original offence which came through Adam and are SAVED FROM THE WRATH OF GOD that comes as a result of this offence. Inclusivism teaches that un-believers in Christ will avoid Hell if they worship any God as they know it, claiming that God works through all of the world's religious faiths. Even Atheists, Buddhists, etc. who do not believe in a God will go to Heaven and avoid hell. The Bible teaches that the gospel is NOT inclusive by content. It has certain qualifications, one must believe to be saved; this is repeated over and over again. No one is saved without their knowing; they are to make a decision.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. “And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” Do you?
Do YOU? Notice it says who lives and believes, there is no second chance after they die.
Universalists often say it is unreasonable for a loving God to send people to a place of eternal torment. They believe that we suffer the consequences of sin in this life only; in the next life it ends and will all be erased.
Even Paul stated in Acts 13:4 to certain Jews “but since you reject it, (the gospel) and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles.”
Universalism teaches that all people will eventually be saved through the atonement of Christ because of grace yet they ignore any conditions of being a recipient of the atonement. John the apostle writes in his gospel 1:11-12 “but as many as receive him, to them he gave the right (power) to become children of God, to those who believe on his name.” If one does not receive him they are not children of God.
The idea that salvation is by grace without faith is their fatal misunderstanding- it is through faith.
The danger of universalism is that it to can give someone a false sense of security about their eternity. You can hear this rhetoric on the talk shows like Oprah all the time. The tolerance of the New Age movement has found a large audience in our society and its message is boldly propagated through the media. They want to show their love by accepting all those who have rejected Jesus. This includes those who have willingly committed horrible crimes and died without repentance. They too are assured to enjoy a future in God’s heaven. I find this interesting because you always hear people react when someone on death row comes to repentance and trusts in Christ. People find it abhorring that they would be forgiven from their crime and be allowed go to heaven. But this is exactly what they are accepting without Christ!
Milliard Erickson a number of years ago explains the growing acceptance of universalism” God of love will not allow any to perish unendingly. Instead, God will bring all men to repentance either without Hell or by means of a purgatory-like Hell. Universalism has a broad appeal because of the positive nature of its message: everybody wins. [Millard J. Erickson, “Is Universalistic Thinking Now Appearing among Evangelicals?” [United Evangelical Action, Sept./Oct. 1989, pp. 4-6.]
The inherent danger in universalism is that it ignores the need for repentance and salvation. What it does remove is accountability for sin and the fear of any judgment. It does not require repentance. A person who adopts universalism can easily conclude that he is going to be saved no matter what he does, then he has no reason to be concerned about repentance or accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior? However if universalism is not true, then they have received a false sense of security bringing them closer to the danger of judgment and their worst nightmare coming true.
The Word Hell
The Bible teaches one goes to hell after death if they have not been cleansed by the sacrifice of Jesus. This is a direct consequence of the fall and our sin nature. Instead of hell, some Bibles use the word sheol. Those looking for the word hell may not find it--some of the new translations do not have this word. What matters is what is contained in the Hebrew and Greek Bible not a modern English translation. Just because English translations do not interpret this word the way it is written in Hebrew or Greek does not change the fact of it being written in the Hebrew and Greek. How it is used to describe this place in the texts is what matters not the word itself.
Sheol is the Old Testament word for Hades; Gehenna is the New Testament word. It is not just a New Testament concept. It is used 64 times throughout the Old Testament. It is used for both the righteous and unrighteous after they die. Hades was the Greek term equal to Sheol.
In the Old Testament, both righteous and wicked when they died descended to sheol. Sheol is the Old Testament equivalent of hades. Sheol or Hades was divided into two sections, one for the saved called Abraham's bosom, and the other for the unsaved which was a place of torment. These two places were separated by a great gulf so that one could not pass from one to the other. The New Testament confirms the Old Testament teaching as Christ gives more revelation on this subject. Jesus loved people enough to tell them the truth. Jesus warned about hell (fire) more than he spoke on heaven, obviously he thought it is better to warn of the place ahead of time preventing anyone from going there. So any argument is deferred to him.
Hebrews 9:27 states that judgment immediately follows death. In Luke 12:4-5 Jesus spoke: “And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.” But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you, fear Him!” This is afterwards. There would be nothing to fear if we don’t exist? There would be nothing to fear if there is no hell but only heaven. Jesus is making it clear there is something to fear after we are separated from the body. Mark 9:43-44 explains this further “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched--“where 'Their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.” THEIR worm not a worm, whatever this means it's not good.
There are three main different Greek words used for Hell. The Greek words the Pit, Abyss, and Tartarus which is found only once in the New Testament. Tartarus is specifically for fallen angels. 2 Pet. 2:4 “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus) and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment.” Angels are spirits who do not die. They have an immaterial body and so does man. After he is separated from this life by death we continue to live. Also the same is mentioned in Jude 6 they are alive somewhere under the earth.
Hell is a English word to describe these three places that are part of the punishment for the unrighteous. While the Scripture does not have the specific word hell in it, the concept of these places are there. Especially found in the description of Hinnom, Gehenna, which are the descriptions Jesus used of fire.
Deut.32:22: “For a fire is kindled by my anger, and shall burn to the lowest hell; it shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Ps. 9:17 “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” Lest we think it is only the grave. Ps. 55:15 “Let death seize them; let them go down alive into hell.” Jonah was fully conscious as he prayed to God from sheol (Jonah 2:2), the only way to get there is to die.
Evangelists have used hell and the fear of judgment at meetings to shock people and move them into a right decision, this is justly approved in the Scripture. Many preachers including Jesus did as well. Jesus warned,“And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body”…but “Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell” (Luke 12:4-5).
Noah being told of the destruction preached 120 years “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Heb. 11:7) “Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly” (2 Pet. 2:5).
Jonah 3:4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day's walk. Then he cried out and said, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!”
Fifteen times in the New Testament, Hell is described in terms of fire. “Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:44,46,48). Hell is described as “fire” (Mt. 5:22; 18:9), an “everlasting fire” (Mt. 18:8; 25:41), “fire unquenchable” (Luke 3:17), “this flame” (Lk. 16:24), In Matthew 13:42, Jesus says: “And shall cast them into a FURNACE OF FIRE: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says: "Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting FIRE. . .” “eternal fire” (Jude 7), and “fire and brimstone” (Rev. 14:10; 20:10; 21:8). Hell is always described in terms of fire and physical torment. It is just as real as the peace found in heaven. Six of twelve references to Gehenna mention fire as one of its characteristics "fire"Matt 7:19, 13:40, 25:41; "everlasting fire" Matt. 18:8, 25:41; "furnace of fire" Matt 13:42, 50; the fire that never shall be quenched" Mark 9:43, 45; "the fire is not quenched" Mark 9:44, 46, 48; "hell fire" Matt. 5:22, 18:9, Mark 9:47. His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Mt. 3:12). Revelation 20:15 says, “ And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the LAKE OF FIRE.” The rich man in Luke 16:23-25 said it was" torment "place of torment" cried:. . .I am tormented in this FLAME." Jude writes (1:22-23) “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” Pulling them out of the fire is a term for a forceful rescue, because that is where they are headed- the fire. In other words that is where they are headed unless they repent and make an about face, trusting in the gospel of God. The Lord Jesus Christ spoke about Hell as a place of fiery torment. This is not up for debate, you as a Christian either hold to the Biblical revelation or not. You cannot say the Bible does not teach it. You may hold to this view but don’t distort the Bibles teaching and say it does not teach it.
Paul using the Old Testament writes of the sinner “Destruction and misery are in their ways; And the way of peace they have not known.” “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” (Rom. 3:16-19) Why say this if there is no consequence for not repenting?
We can find the universal view not only on TV but in books by some popular Christian authors. In a 1994 biography by Isabel Anders (Standing on High Places), she writes of Hurnard’s shift from sound biblical doctrine. “The view that she strongly sets forth is one of universalism, or a belief that all will be saved in the end. This was an understanding that caused Hannah to reconsider all of her early evangelical zeal, as well as look with new eyes at the meaning of life and death” (pp. 154-155, quote from PFO article).
Mountains of spices is an allegory about human weaknesses and strengths comparing the spices in the song of Solomon to the fruits of the spirit In it she writes her universal view of Salvation “It is love; to the Lamb of God who bears the sins of the world and still, must bear it and suffer, with sinner's until, every sin-defiled creature turns at last from their sinning and seeks, his delivering power”(p.95 Mountains of Spices by H. Hurnard).
Universalists teach that God is so full of love that He simply cannot send anyone to eternal hell fire. It is against His infinite love. They want God to forgive all, even those who openly reject Him and die cursing God. Even some well recognized theologians have come to some more open minded conclusions that the Bible does not hold. Clark Pinnock has come to the same conclusion of error that many universalists do. “Surely God judges the heathen in relation to the light they have, not according to the light that did not reach them. Of course God condemns those who really are his enemies. But his judgment will take into account what people are conscious of, what they yearn for, what they have suffered, what they do out of love, and so forth.” We are not accepted by works but by our personal faith in what Christ did on our behalf. It’s not both, not one way for some and another way for others.
The problem is this: the Bible teaches we are all enemies of God and need to be reconciled through Jesus Christ, there is no other means Rom. 5:8-10 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life” Col. 1:21 “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled.” This is not an automatic process, Paul states over and over it is by faith in the cross, the Son, his blood shed.
The fact is, Pinnock in His book, A Wideness in God's Mercy promotes a much more open view of the lostness of mankind countering the biblical orthodoxy of past generations. Promoting a wider hope “We have now refuted the restrictivist view that says that only those who actually confess Jesus in this life can be saved. . . . On the contrary, the Bible teaches that many varieties of unevangelized persons will attain salvation.”
Yet this is an outright denial of the New Testament revelation in Acts 4:12, “that there is no other name under heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved.” The Greek word dei - “must” in this verse means necessary and binding. This is the same word “must” Gr. dei found in John 3:7, where Jesus says, “You must (dei) be born again.” There is not another option accepted by God. The wider mercy teaching brings a false comfort, to think of God's love is so wide and vast that all will be saved; by believing or not believing. But if the Bible tells us it is not all encompassing and God is not so lenient then we must consider that some may not merit his favor, and we are responsible to tell them. And that changes the way we live.
Clark Pinnock has come to the wrong conclusion because he is trying to hold to what evangelicals believe and find a way to use universalistic inclusivism at the same time. These are opposite views.
“...we are asked to believe that God endlessly tortures sinners by the million, sinners who perish because the Father has decided not to elect them to salvation [while they were alive on earth], though he could have done so, and whose torments are supposed to gladden the hearts of believers in heaven. The problems with this doctrine are both extensive and profound” (Clark.H. Pinnock, p 136. William Crockett, “Four views on Hell,” Zondervan, 1992).
I don’t know of any Christian who would be glad of those being tormented, in fact we are told “ God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying” in the future. Pinnock presupposes we will not be saddened for those who will not share in what could have been theirs but “gladden the hearts of believers in heaven.” I don't know here he got this from. But it is not God’s choice who is sent to hell, but theirs. The Gospel is whosoever will-it is a loving call to all to come, not some. One must respond to the work of the Holy spirit convicting them of sin and accept the gospel as their only way out of being punished and only way into heaven.
So how can we enjoy eternity without our loved ones who are suffering? The answer is already there for us to understand. Are there people suffering now on earth now, can you live with this. There are also people right now suffering under the earth from millennia before. If we are affected to any degree now, it should motivate us to tell the gospel, not tell them they are ok. Therefore the only act of love you or I can do is to warn them so they will make the choice to go to heaven.
We may not understand the severity of judgment, but there are many things of God we cannot comprehend. Just because we do not understand certain statements does not give us the independence to reject the statements. Hell is a terrible place and I don't want anyone to go there. But it does not matter what I think in my opinion, what matters is what the Bible says. Otherwise you do not hold it as your final authority. Then you become the authority and the Bible is not.
The Bible teaches God is love (1 John 4:8), but God also punishes the sinner, why? Because he hates all who do iniquity. God cannot be reduced to only an infinitely loving God and ignore His other attributes. He is also infinitely just. He must deal with sin because of His nature of being. He must punish the sinner for their sinful work, just as He rewards the saint for their work. God is called a jealous God and wants our affections, but it is not forced. The truth of God's word makes it clear God has provided one way by which we may be saved. That single way is through Jesus' sacrifice. For all who trust in Him, salvation will come. Jesus saves us from the judgment of God upon us due to us because of our sinfulness. The natural consequence of being a sinner is judgment. God will punish the sinner (Hosea 8:13; 9:9) if he does not repent. The one who rejects Jesus does not have forgiveness of sins, and has the wrath of God abiding upon him. What universalists ignore is the clear statements Jesus made that we are already condemned. Jesus saves us from God’s wrath and punishment on sin. Jesus will save all those who receive Him (John 1:12; Rom. 8:1) only then can they escape the judgment that is to come on sinners.
After the passage of John 3:16 which universalists take out of its context, Jesus goes on John 3:18-21 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” He further states “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).
But to those who turn away, Jesus said “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” Ps. 145:20 “The LORD preserves all who love Him, but all the wicked He will destroy.”
The majority of references to Hades or Gehenna (15 out of 23) come from the lips of Christ. (Except for James Jam. 3:6) Jesus was the only one to use the word Gehenna. Which makes all the more important in determining its meaning
Jesus warned us about hell, He did not just promise heaven to everyone (Matt. 5:22,29-30; 23:33; Mark 9:45; Luke 12:5). In fact, He spoke more of hell than He did of heaven. He does not want you to go to that place of torment. That is why He said, “And if your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the eternal fire,” (Matt. 18:8). Nowhere is annihilation an option, the punishment by God will be in degrees proportionate to the works one has done and the rejection of revelation given to each person (Luke 12:47, 48; Rom. 2:5, 6; 2 Cor. 5:10; 11:15; 2 Tim. 4:14; Rev. 2:23; 18:5, 6).
What can the Scriptures about the eternal punishment of the wicked mean if all are saved? (Mark 9:41-48 for example.) Why did Jesus speak so much about hell? (More than all the writers of the Bible combined.) If universalism is true, then Jesus' warning is for nothing? If universalism is true what did Jesus come to save us from? Sin has punishment. Universalism leads us away from truth not upholds it. It assures people not to fear the wrath to come? It removes the fear of God. Jesus Himself warned people about hell and the Bible tells us “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Prov. 9:10). In other words the have reverence for what He says enough to believe it and obey it.
We need to ask ourselves is the “gospel of inclusion,” (universalism) the gospel of Jesus and Paul, or is it “another gospel”? Jesus saves us from the wrath on sinners. Jesus saves all those who receive Him (John 1:12; Rom. 8:1) so that they can escape the judgment to come. John began his ministry “He therefore began saying to the multitudes who were going out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?” (Luke 3:7). A universalist says what wrath? The Bible does indeed teach that people will suffer eternal damnation, but it is not because God did not do something, it is because they themselves did not. They did not listen to the warning and take hold of the only place of rescue, Jesus Christ. It is Satan who wants to see the destruction of people. Satan wants people to die in their sins and go to hell. He has utter hatred and contempt for those whom God loves and he is willing to deceive them to no end. A universalist who denies the clear warnings in scripture about hell and punishment are not doing God’s work but are helping the enemy of God do his.
Charles Finney wrote, “Then the Universalist. Where is one who can say he has not so much as a doubt whether there is not a hell, where sinners go after death into endless torment. He is bound to stop and inquire, and search the scriptures. It is not enough for him to say he does not believe in a hell. It may be there is, and if he rejects it, and goes on reckless of the truth whether there is or not, that itself makes him a rebel against God. He doubts whether there is not a hell which he ought to avoid, and yet he acts as if he was certain and had no doubts. He is condemned. (LECTURES TO PROFESSING CHRISTIANS by Charles G. Finney)
Ps 1:4-6 “The ungodly are not so, but are like the chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the ungodly shall perish.” God does make a distinction and the Godly will stand in his presence with joy, the ungodly will be swept away.
Isaiah the prophet warns of a time coming Isa. 13:11 “I will punish the world for its evil, and the wicked for their iniquity; I will halt the arrogance of the proud, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.” Isa. 26:21 “For behold, the LORD comes out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity; the earth will also disclose her blood, and will no more cover her slain.” Jude 1:14-15 “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, “to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” He says ungodly three times making the point that these are ones who are in rebellion to God’s truth.
In Matthew 13:49 Jesus said, “This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous.” Again, two classes are mentioned - unbelievers and believers spoken of as the wicked and the righteous, the godly and ungodly.
All Demons and people will be saved
Some universalists hold the position that repentance can occur after he has died in a future state. A few universalists even uphold the position that Satan and all his demons will be reconciled to God and not be punished.
Some universalists who point out Paul who said in Phil 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.
Paul actually quotes Isa.45:23 twice. What this does not mean is that salvation and eternal life is given because all those who ever lived acknowledge Jesus Christ as God.
Paul makes it clear in Rom 14:10-12 “For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
The Bible says nothing of angels, both good or bad receiving salvation, instead it states the opposite, “but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-- things which angels desire to look into” (1 Pet. 1:12) The good angels do not understand what salvation is because they have not experience it, they can’t understand the change that occurs in a persons heart. Angels are not part of salvation they were given the power of choice when they were created. When Satan fell he took 1/3rd of these creatures by convincing them to rebel with him. This was a one-time event that now confirmed them in their fallen nature forever unable to change back. We don’t read of a constant falling of angels throughout history, because it happened only one time. So there are two classes of angels the obedient, who are holy, and the disobedient, unclean. There is no redemption by Christ for the disobedient angels only disobedient humans. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-- and tremble!” (James 2:19) Their belief is not salvation because they do not have faith, they do not trust in God, they have made their choice and rebelled and they will be punished. It is for this very reason God became a man, to redeem mankind. “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16). Demons cannot be redeemed. Jesus is the Redeemer of humanity, not demons.
Another point made by the Bible is that if one was annihilated in gehenna he could not experience any type of torment. The peoples end is the same as the demons if they reject Christ. Rev. 19:20 “Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone.” We find the scriptures say Rev. 13:12 “Those who worship the beast and receive his mark “he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name” (Rev. 14:10-11). These people receive the same punishment as those who follow the false prophet and the Beast. Rev. 20:9-10 “The devil, who deceived them, was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where the beast and the false prophet are. And they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
You can't torment something that does not exist! You can't have no rest if you don't exist!
Paul writes that the grace of God has appeared to all men. The universalist sees this as salvation procured for all. Paul means that it is offered to all. Unfortunately the universalst does not read the Bible correctly, for it says we are saved by grace THROUGH faith NOT just grace, thus not everyone is automatic recipients of salvation by Jesus Christ’s work on the cross (Eph.2:8-10). We must do something, salvation is not transferred to everyone by osmosis (grace). This is a pernicious teaching that goes against the gospel message.
We are in the time of grace when the gospel is offered to all people. Acts 17:30-31: “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, “because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” This means that one must turn to Christ to have assurance on that day where He judges the living and the dead. Acts 26:20 “but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance.
The universalists ignore the biblical warnings and examples and say such things like “God loves us all,” “God is love,” “he will not send anyone to hell.” God is love and universalism uses this by divorcing it from God’s other attributes, such as holiness and justice (which demand s judgment) that are equally present in His character. God has expressed His love by mercy, not in many ways but in a certain way. To show love to those who accept His love He must punish evil or He cannot be a God of love. If one reads Mt. 25 they find that Jesus sentences those on his left into fire, God does send those to hell that reject him. It is nonsense to believe He receives those who reject Him into heaven.
The Scriptures consistently categorize people into one of two classes (saved/unsaved-- believers/unbelievers).
In Matthew 13:30 Jesus in a parable said, “Let both [tares and wheat] grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.” Here unbelievers and are spoken of as tares, believers as wheat. Two classes. They are separated in the judgment of Mt.25. Universalists discount the Scriptures that tell us about the separation and punishment of those who refused to believe. In Matthew 25:32 Jesus said that following His second coming, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.” Here believers and unbelievers are differentiated by the terms “sheep” and “goats.” The sheep will enter into God's kingdom (vs. 34) and inherit eternal life (vs. 46). The goats go into eternal punishment (vs. 46). One group goes into the kingdom the other goes into hell. The Bible teaches thieves, liars, fornicators will not enter the kingdom, therefore there is NO inclusive message that all will be saved. Jesus said for one to see the kingdom they must be born again- have a spiritual birth.
Depending on what each person’s decision is on earth about Christ and the acceptance of the gospel they will end up in one of these places, heaven or hell (Acts 16:31). Heb.9:27 “ it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” In Luke 16:26 we find Abraham in the afterlife telling the unsaved rich man: “Between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” Hades had two compartments: “paradise” for those who are in the faith, and “torments” for the unsaved - and these compartments were separated by a great chasm or gulf. Now they are separated with even a greater gulf as paradise is in heaven and hell is still in the same place under the earth. The Bible does not support any merging of believers and unbelievers in the afterlife. Universalists oppose the Bibles teaching on this from beginning to end.
Repentance is Needed for Salvation
Satan is bent on the destruction of people, his purpose is to deceive people so they will die in their sins and go to hell. His focus is on destroying the truth. He is filled with hatred for mankind. Because of a higher degree of intelligence and power he is also extremely shrewd in his inventions of religion and philosophy. I believe Universalism is a tool of the devil in the last days. It denies the gospel, the need to trust in Christ in this life in its place it promotes an acceptance to all, and a second chance afterwards.
The in house debate that God might save some in His sovereignty and grace such as infants who die and are aborted, or the mentally handicapped has nothing to do with those who use universalism to destroy the proclamation of the gospel of Christ to the unsaved. There are no second chances for one to repentant after this life.
Mark 6:10-12 Jesus instructed you enter a house, stay there till you depart from that place. “And whoever will not receive you nor hear you, when you depart from there, shake off the dust under your feet as a testimony against them. Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” So they went out and preached that people should repent.”
It’s quite simple, No repentance no salvation.
By promoting Universalism, Satan works his false doctrines through its adherents. Jesus said to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ to be saved, this would not be a absolute true statement. Satan wants people not to be concerned about receiving Jesus now, there is always later. But it is Christ who says, ”behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:3). “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts” (Heb. 4:7). Salvation is always offered as a now proclamation. If one can wait for the after life to be saved, then what is being proposed is that they are wrong now, they will be right later. This means it does not matter what anyone believes or practices it will all be rectified later whether they agree with it or not.
The Bible and Jesus have a very different view. Luke 8:12 “Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.” No one is saved without using their will to make a choice and it is God’s work on their heart for this to occur. One must have faith in Christ and continue in it for the result of salvation, there is no other way.
John the Baptist began his ministry by saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Mt. 3:2). Jesus began his ministry by saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). Luke 13:3 “after telling a story about a true catastrophe” I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish. And repeats the same warning in v.5. Acts 2:38 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.” Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,” because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”
To repent means to believe on the Lord Jesus to save you and turn toward God and leave your old ways behind,.
For those “Christian” universalists that assume everyone who practices different religions are acceptable Jesus has this to say Rev 9:20 “But the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, that they should not worship demons, and idols of gold, silver, brass, stone, and wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk.”
2 Cor. 5:10-11 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. Knowing, therefore, the TERROR of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.”
For those who say God is ONLY love this does not sit well. The fact is you have this live to receive God’s offer and then only judgment awaits.
Universalism, a man centered viewpoint
Jesus said “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.”
A sheep is someone who actually follows the shepherd. They are ones who listen, believe and understand His words. They do not question them or change them. There are wolves that think they are sheep, there are wolves that know they are not sheep but want to look like sheep, but deny Him to others as the only way .
A popular author and bestseller of books writes “There are a thousand paths to God, and every one gets you there” (Neale Donald Walsch, Friendship with God, an uncommon dialogue 1999, p. 357)
Unitarian universalists and mostly annihilationists such as Jehovah’s Witnesses “We have also learned that Gehenna does not mean a place of torment, but is used in the Bible as a symbol of everlasting destruction” (You Can Live Forever in Paradise on Earth, p. 89)
Jehovah’s Witnesses also deny the doctrine of the incarnation of God. They also deny the personhood and deity of the Holy Spirit. Many of these same denials are held by others who are in the Universalist camp. If they deny these essentials they cannot be classified as Christians even if they claim they are. Many of the cults hold this annihilation view. The Seventh day Adventists prophetess E. G. White stated: “It is beyond the power of the human mind to estimate the evil which has been wrought by the heresy of eternal torment” (E.G.White The Great Controversy, p. 536) .
The beliefs of Unitarian Universalists vary. Members are not required to hold any specific belief concerning God, Jesus, heaven, hell, etc. but have the freedom for their personal view. Within the church there are diverse beliefs about a deity. Some are Arian (God is one person, Jesus is a creation) some who claim Christianity are Trinitarian. There are some individuals who believe in the existence of god or gods and goddess(es), monotheism or polytheism. We are unable to categorize all of universalists into a certain belief system as they vary. Others hold new age concepts of man's potential and divinity. What we find is universalism is not united by any specific doctrine. They hold various views on life after death, annihilationism to reincarnation. Approximately 10% of Unitarian Universalists consider themselves to be Christians having agreement with liberal Christian denominations. Liberalism is a movement away from being God centered, having a human centered philosophy, based on human reasoning and not the Word of God.
The American Unitarian Association was formed in 1925 rejected Bible doctrines such as the total depravity of man, the Trinity, and eternal punishment in Hell. The Unitarian-Universalist Association of Congregations in North America was formed from a merger of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America in May 1961. They found truth in the universal teachings of prophets and teachers of all ages and traditions. That the bible is included in the collection of religious writings from all ages. They believe in the brotherhood of man and justice and peace as goals for their actions.
What do Unitarian Universalists think of Christ: Unitarian Universalist minister Waldemar Argow states: "They [Unitarian/Universalists] do not regard him as a supernatural creature, the literal son of God who was miraculously sent to earth as part of an involved plan for the salvation of human souls.' (Waldemar Argow, Unitarian Universalism-Some Questions Answered (pamphlet) (Boston, MA. Unitarian Universalism Assoc., nd.), p. 6.)
The Universal life church founded by Hensley Kirby wanted to see religion bring people together not divide. He taught heaven was nothing more or lessthan the position of having what you want; hell is when you do not have what you want.
Most if not all Universalists hold that all mankind will go to heaven despite their various beliefs (or as the Christian universalist camp teaches because of Christ atonement everyone in all the different religions will end up their --there are a variety of views held within this framework as well).
Yet the Bible teaches, “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” Rom. 8:9. The proof of ones forgiveness of sins is the promise of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, one receives Him when they believe the gospel. Therefore no reception of the gospel no Holy Spirit and no entering the kingdom.
The world does not want the Jesus Christ as the Bible teaches. This what the universalism teaching does, it negates His exclusive statements. What would be a uniting religious concept that would tend to unite different religious systems? Universalism! Where is this all headed. I can see this as being part of the fulfillment of Rev.17 -- Mystery Babylon. Universalism will be held so the concept of the spirit being poured out on all flesh can be called a reality for all people. Think about it. If everyone is going to be saved, then Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, etc. will all keep people from judgment and hell, and all are equally valid to bring the people to heaven to be with God. The question that immediately rises from this is, which God? Are we all believing in the same God?
pt 2 The influence of Universalism on society and the Church