Universalism is the teaching that all people will be saved. Some say that it is through the atonement of Jesus that all will ultimately be reconciled to God. Others just say that all will go to heaven sooner or later, whether or not they have trusted in or rejected Jesus as savior during their lifetime. This universal redemption will be realized in the future where God will bring all people to repentance. This repentance can happen while a person lives or after he has died and lived again in the millennium (as some "Christian universalists" claim) or some future state. Additionally, a few universalists even maintain that Satan and all demons will likewise be reconciled to God.
Universalism teaches that all people will eventually be saved through the atonement of Christ. It says that all mankind, even those who have openly rejected Jesus, those who have willingly committed horrible crimes and died without repentance, and without the covering of Christ's blood, will enjoy a future with God. This belief is based upon the idea that God's love is so infinitely great, that His grace in Christ is so awesome, that everyone will be saved. This simply is not true.
The danger of universalism is that it to can give someone a false sense of security about their eternal destiny. It can remove the need of accountability. It can remove the fear of judgment. It does not require repentance. A person who adopts universalism can easily conclude that if he is going to be saved no matter what he does, then why be concerned about repentance or accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior? This potential error is most dangerous. Especially because if universalism is not true, then the false sense of security it has given to those who have not trusted in Christ, will lead them to damnation. This is a very serious danger.
Of course, simply because it is possible that people will become lax in accepting Christ if they adopt universalism, it does not mean this is what will happen. Nor does it mean that all Universalists think they can go out and sin willfully. On the contrary, most Universalists are very moral. But, there is the inherent danger in universalism that reduces the need for repentance and salvation. This is a great risk. Eternity is a long time to be wrong and hell is a terrible place to be forever.
What does Satan want?
Satan wants the destruction of people. Satan wants people to die in their sins and go to hell. He is utter hatred and complete evil. But, he is also extremely cunning with an intelligence that is vast. Universalism may very well become a tool of the evil one in the last days. It weakens the need to trust in Christ in this life.
In Universalism, Satan can work his false doctrines through its adherents. This is clearly the case since many Universalists deny the Trinity and the deity of Christ. But in universalist theology, it really doesn't matter. Why? Because ultimately, in the after life, people will come to a true knowledge of God and repent and be saved. So, even if they are wrong now, they will be right later.
Satan says, "Don't worry about receiving Jesus now. You can do that later." But it is Christ who says,
- “At the acceptable time I listened to you, And on the day of salvation I helped you”; behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation" (2 Cor. 6:2).
- "He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts" (Heb. 4:7).
What would be a uniting religious concept that would tend to unite different religious systems? Universalism! Think about it. If everyone is going to be saved, then Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Mormonism, Hinduism, etc. will not keep people out of hell. If all religions adopted universalism, then each could look at the other as being a different belief (or even error) that would, nevertheless, lead a person to redemption in the after-life.
What does Jesus save us from?
Jesus saves. But what does He save us from? Does Jesus save us from ourselves, our thoughts, our actions, our temperament, or even our sins. No. He saves us from the wrathful judgment of God upon us, due to us because of our sinfulness. There is a natural consequence to being a sinner: judgment. God will punish the sinner (Hosea 8:13; 9:9). The one who rejects Jesus does not have a covering for sin, does not have forgiveness of sins, and has the wrath of God abiding upon him:
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).
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).
Jesus warned us about hell (Matt. 5:22, 29-30; 23:33; Mark 9:45; Luke 12:5). In fact, He spoke more of it 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). If universalism is true, then where is the power in Jesus' warning? If universalism is true then there is no eternal fiery hell, no dread of being cast into it, no wrath to come -- but there is!
Hell is the real place. Jesus came to save us from it. But you must trust Christ and His atoning sacrifice in order to escape the wrath of God.
Does universalism lead us to urgency? Does it lead us to fear the wrath to come? No. It doesn't. It removes the urgency. It removes the fear of God.
Now, I am not saying that we must live in fear or that fear is the only motive to be saved. But, Jesus Himself warned people about hell and the Bible tells us that "the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom," (Prov. 9:10).
Universalism can lead to complacency. It can easily lessen ones concern for salvation and repentance. In this, there is danger.
*Original Post: www.carm.org
The Bible says to "test yourselves to see if you are in the faith" (2 Cor. 13:5). This is something that we must do. We must not carelessly assume that we know all the truths of the Bible. If Universalism is true, fine. But if it is not, then the eternal consequence of damnation is of utter importance. Therefore, I issue this challenge to any who claim to be Universalists. Are you a Christian?
Of course, some of you will claim that you are, and it is not my place to judge you. God is the Judge and He has revealed what His will is in the Bible about what false doctrines disqualify someone from being a Chrsitian. Therefore, it is from God's word that I challenge you. This challenge is not about the truth or error of Universalism. It is about who Jesus is. Do you believe He is God, the creator of the universe, worthy of all worship and honor, equal to the person of the Father? If yes, good. If not, then you desperately need to examine yourself to see if you are in the faith because to deny this means you are not a Christian.
Jesus said, "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins," (John 8:24, NASB). The word "He" is not in the Greek. It literally says, "for unless you believe that I am, you shall die in your sins." Later in this same chapter, in verse 58, Jesus said, "before Abraham was, I AM." He was alluding to Exodus 3:14, where God told Moses that His name was "I am that I am."
Likewise, 1 John 4:2-3 says, "This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world." Very few people deny that Jesus lived; that is, that Jesus came in flesh. When John wrote this, he was not saying that you must believe that Jesus lived, but that Jesus was God in flesh.
The time of the writing of First John is important. The Gnostic heresy was prominent. It taught that God was too pure to have anything to do with sinful flesh. Therefore, Gnosticism taught that Jesus could not be God in flesh. It was in this context and against this error that John was writing. Jesus is God in flesh and to deny it is the Spirit of Antichrist.
Furthermore, the above verse needs to be cross referenced with John 1:1,14 (also written by John) where he states that the Word was God and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. In 1 John 4, the apostle knew what he was writing when he spoke of Jesus being in the flesh.
The Bible states that there is only one God (Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 44:8). It states that Jesus created all that exists: "For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together," (Col. 1:16-17). Jesus is the creator.
In Isaiah 44:24, it says, "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, and spreading out the earth all alone." This verse shows us that the Lord God created the universe - alone. If God created the universe alone and if Jesus created all things, then Jesus is God. Jesus is fully and completely God in flesh, second person of the Trinity. Col. 2:9, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form."
And again, in John 5:22-23, Jesus said, "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him."
Why is all this so important? Because it is Jesus who reveals the Father (Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22), who sends the Holy Spirit of truth (John 15:26), and who opens the mind to understand scripture (Luke 24:45). If you do not have the true Jesus, you will not know the true God. You will not know the true Holy Spirit. You will not have your mind opened to understand God's word. If you do not have the true Christ, then you simply are not a Christian.
So I challenge you, do you believe Jesus is God in flesh, worthy of the same honor as the Father, the creator of all, the risen Lord? If you cannot say yes, then I suggest to you that you are not a Christian and need to re-examine your beliefs, regardless of whether or not Universalism is true.
Furthermore, if you deny that Jesus is God in flesh and just if Universalism is false, then you would be in deep trouble come judgment day. Don't put your hope in Universalism. Put it in Jesus who is God in flesh.
*Original Post: www.carm.org
Universalism is a false and dangerous doctrine. It is unbiblical. Nevertheless, the teaching that God will forgive all people of all their sins is an appealing teaching. It is comforting to think that no one will go to hell forever--especially ourselves. It means that we will escape the judgment of damnation. It means we are safe even in our imperfections, our sins, our rebellion, and our blasphemies. It means we can offend God outright, reject Him boldly, and not worry about our salvation--because we'll all be saved no matter what they do in this life. This is, of course, wrong.
On the other hand, if there are people going to hell, then it means that there is a God who holds them eternally accountable for their actions. It means there is absolute truth concerning condemnation. It means there exists a God who punishes sinners who reject God and separates them from His own infinite holiness. Down deep inside this can make us uncomfortable and worried. Such an idea of accountability might force us to examine ourselves and ask, "Am I saved?" "Am I going to heaven?" "Have I offended God?" "Will I be punished?" "What am I really like deep, down inside?" The answers to these questions can make us feel guilty, uncomfortable, and even worried, especially when we compare ourselves to a Holy God.
In this world of "tolerance," diluted absolutes, and creature comforts, the idea that all people will be forgiven fits right in. Universalism is a theology of tolerance, of ease, and comfort. It feels good. Psychologically it can ease our conscience because if we, in the goodness of our hearts, are wishing the forgiveness of all, doesn't it mean that we too will receive forgiveness due us because of our merciful desire towards others? Many people think this way and somehow hope that because of their own good will towards others, they will receive it themselves.
It is not comfortable, nor does it make us feel calm and relaxed to think that there is an infinitely Holy God who takes sin seriously and punishes sinners. It can be terrifying to be faced with an eternity of hell fire if you have not made yourself right with God. And such is the complaint of the universalist: God is love and in Him there is no fear of eternal damnation.
The universalists are often guilty of pick-and-choose theology. See the papers on Matt. 25:46and "A look at the word aionion" as examples of how they misuse Greek meanings of words. In addition, I have encountered many universalists who have stated that they adopted Universalism because they did not like the idea of eternal damnation. In essence, to do this this is to adopt a theology based on feelings and this is wrong.
God punishes sinners (Matt. 25:46). Why? Because He is Holy (Isaiah 6:3; Rev. 4:8). His eyes are too pure to look upon evil (Hab. 1:13). Is He love? Yes, He is (1 John 4:8, 16). But that isn't all He is. He is also just (Neh. 9:32-33; 2 Thess. 1:6) and must punish sinners because sin is an offense against Him and sin separates us from Him (Isaiah 59:2). In His love He sent the Son to die for us. For those who reject Christ, God will be just and punish them.
Hell was not made for people. It was made for the devil and his angels who rebelled against God (Matt. 25:41). But hell will also house those who reject God's provision for salvation and side with the evil one (Matt. 18:8; 25:46). This is a sad reality.
Will Satan too be saved according to the Universalists? No. Will the evil people who commit the most horrendous of crimes and who have blasphemed the name of God be allowed to escape their judgment even after openly rejecting the Lord's sacrifice? Does God simply say, "It is okay for you to reject me, my Son, the Sacrifice, the Agony on the cross. It does not matter about your blasphemies against Me. It does not matter that you have given yourself over to evil. I will save you after a period of chastening in the afterlife. Enter into My rest and enjoy eternal bliss. All are saved." No, this is not so.
"How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?" (Heb. 10:29).
The teaching of Universalism minimizes the Infinite Holiness and Infinite Justice of God which also resides within His very essence alongside Infinite Love. It does this by daring to assert that anyone, in the afterlife, through any form of suffering, are somehow "made ready" to be with God. That is false! Hell is not a pleasant topic. It is an awful place. But it is real and it is powerful and it is eternal. No one will escape the judgment of God if they forsake Christ in this world.
God gave hell its power. The power of sin is the Law (1 Cor. 15:56). To sin is to offend God and to go against His word, His very nature. The Law is God's word. He said, "Thou shalt not . . . " Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. God spoke the Law into existence out of the very nature of His own heart. Therefore, to go against the Law is to go against God and to offend Him. He is infinite. The offense is infinite.
He is just and is obligated to punish sin and, hence, the sinner.
He is love and graciously provided His Son to redeem those who would be His.
Universalism makes the latter quality of God override the other, having the sinner escape eternal judgment by going through a period of suffering in the afterlife. This is wrong. When such an imbalance occurs, error is the result. And that is what Universalism is: error. Its danger is that it may cause the heart to be comfortable, to not worry, and to put off seeking a savior. Such a doctrine is dangerous since it can easily encourage a casual approach to redemption.
*Original Post: www.carm.org