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Understanding Universal Salvation

Posted on July 07, 2017 by Alexander
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Will all be saved n the end?

I asked the question, “What is Universal Salvation” on a forum that has Christians from all walks of life. I genuinely wanted to know why people believe in universal salvation. I knew I would get a Scripture debate where the pros and cons would cite their scriptural proof for their position. I am not interested in such debate. My interest is in the motivating factors that lead people to one position or the other.

God made life user friendly. It is not hard to function in life. Sin and death did not come from God and that makes life seem harder than it is. It is not necessary for us to know how life works, only how to live life. Jesus Christ came so we may have life more abundantly. When I read the arguments pro and con on this subject, I had no sense of life in the discussion. Only academic, natural mind thinking. Only once did anyone give an indication that God prompted them in this direction, who said that 1 Cor. 15:22 jumped out at her. This clearly was a rhema from God. However, just because we get a rhema does not mean we automatically understand the significance of the rhema. She said that she began a research through various books to pursue the subject. That verse states:

1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

It is understandable how that verse by its self would lead one to think that all will be saved. But it is not by itself. The next verse qualifies what it means:

1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.

That does not say all people. It says “they that are Christ’s at his coming”.

Reading the many responses from those who embrace the doctrine, I find this common thread. Many became convinced, not all, of their position because of reading books by authors arguing for that position. And they went back to the Scriptures to see if this is so. Sounds like the noble Bereans to me. Except for one thing: they went looking to find the doctrine. It was not as though through reading the Scriptures for themselves that they found the doctrine through a leading of the Spirit. They were biased by the books to see the doctrine.

I find two other commonalities in the pro responses. Their backgrounds in understanding salvation were either one or the other, and often a blend of both: salvation by grace and works, or having a Calvinst upbringing and their reaction to Calvinism. And in those two commonalities is the one issue of Hell and the Lake of Fire.

If one believes that your salvation is based upon your faith in Christ plus your works of faith, then the possibility of failure to do enough and still go to Hell then the Lake of Fire is terrifying. I get that. I am 63 and my brother recently passed away. So I think often of my own day of demise. Occasionally, I wonder if my life in Christ has been good enough? But I can not accept such thoughts. I know Jesus. I know the Bible. I am convinced, not because of Scriptural arguments, but by my 30 year conscious walk with Christ, and my realizing in hindsight how good God has been to me my entire life, that my salvation is secure because of my faith in the grace of God given me through Jesus Christ. I am not a Calvinist. I do believe that one can lose your salvation. But that is not on God’s side. It is on our side. We can walk away from God and believe that God is evil and that Satan is good. But that is extremely hard to do. I do not need to believe in universal salvation to be confident in my own salvation.

But what about my brother who recently died? I want to believe that he is in Heaven, but I have no just reason to believe so. My brother had a New Age faith in Christ. As far as I know, he was never born again. That does not mean he was not. It simply means, I don’t know. So I completely understand the desire to want to believe all are saved in the end. But a plain reading of the Scriptures do not reveal that to me. The arguments I read for the doctrine required making Hebrew and Greek words be re-translated to fit the argument.

I am not against Hebrew and Greek word studies. They can add light and clarity to a passage. But as I said, I believe God made life user friendly, and I believe the Lord can speak clearly to our hearts through the English translations we have. Frankly, I believe that theology is the devil’s tool that began in the Garden of Eden when the serpent said to Eve, “Has God surely said?” Before that time, they had a simple faith in the Word that God gave them. The question brought doubt and confusion on them, plunging them into the fall of mankind. One does not need to read the Hebrew and Greek to understand the Bible. There is no life in the Bible, the Life moves through the Bible. A carnal mind will get nothing out of the Bible, only those open to the Holy Spirit gain life through the Bible. Understanding the Spirit’s communication through the Bible means understanding why something was said and the point it is making. That can be understood in English.

This brings me to the theology of Calvinism. I do not believe it. I think it is a demonic doctrine that has infiltrated all of Christian thinking. And Calvinism is based upon one theological doctrine that is assumed to be true, yet is never directly stated and another theological doctrine that is stated but is twisted by Calvinism. Those two doctrines are omniscience and omnipotence. Before I address these, I am not saying there is no truth in these doctrines, I am saying the way these doctrines are generally viewed creates logical conclusions that misunderstand God.

If God knew that Adam would sin, why didn’t he prevent that possibility? This question assumes the omniscience of God. God did not know that he would sin, but he knew he could sin, thus was prepared for that possibility. The same question is asked regarding Lucifer. If he knew he would rebel, why make him in the first place? Again, omniscience is assumed.

Again, I am not discounting His supreme intelligence. I know his thoughts are higher than mine (although the context is not God’s intelligence but his morality); I know He knows the number of hairs on my head and has named every star in the sky. I know that he knew Cyrus by name 500 years before Cyrus was born. I completely trust the wisdom of God and believe that Father knows best. Jesus told us to have a simple faith like a child towards God. But that does not mean He knows which choices we will make.

This is the essence of being alive. Our free will. I believe He knows all the possible choices we can make and their outcomes, but until we actually make those choices, I don’t think He knows. I think He knows the probability of what choices we make, but, again, until we make them, He does not know. Even the choice that Jesus had to make as to whether he would go to the cross and die for our sins was still unknown until he made the choice. Otherwise his temptations are meaningless for him to be our High Priest.

In the T.U.L.I.P. acronym [Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Grace, and the Perseverance of the Saints] of Calvinism this point of assuming God’s omniscience is found in the letter L: Limited Atonement. It is this doctrine that says only the Elect will be saved. It says God chooses who will be saved. While I believe that God knows who will accept or reject salvation, this is still by probability, but is not fore ordained,  which gives the sense that God chooses those who will be damned for eternity. It is this, that I think, the adherents to universal salvation are rejecting. They still believe that God knows those who accept them in this life, but they twist the Scriptures to say that Hell and the Lake of Fire is a purging device that will cause people to repent and accept the salvation of Christ in the end. This is not much different than the Catholic belief in Purgatory. I completely disagree with that idea. The place of purging is the cross of Christ, not Hell or the Lake of Fire. If a person dies today without the Holy Spirit already in them, they will not be resurrected into the glorified bodies that are Christs. As 1 Cor. 15:23 said, “those that are Christ’s at his coming” not after their death.

The other aspect of Calvinism that seems to be at the root of the doctrine is the letter I: Irresistible Grace. This doctrine is clearly founded upon the other doctrine of omnipotence. The assumption made by Christians is that since God is all powerful He can do anything, including making it impossible for the Elect He has chosen to resist salvation. This is also the basis of the sovereignty belief that as the sovereign Lord He can do what ever He wants. For the believers in universal salvation that means since He is love, He is also able to bring everyone to repentance, even after death. This is simply not true.

God can not violate His own character. He is Truth and can not lie. He can, however, be discreet and withhold information. Nor can He contradict nor disregard His own Word. When He says something it stands. The gifts and the callings of God are without repentance. He gave us freedom to choose, and He will never violate our free wills. If we choose to reject Him, He will call and woo us, but He will never force us to accept Him. That is contrary to the meaning of agape love.

Which brings me to the reason I do not believe that a person can be saved after he dies. As I said before, the point of purging happens on the cross, not Hell or the Lake of Fire. When Paul says “to be absent from the body is to be present from the Lord” we are only present with the Lord if we are already saved before we die.

Cultural ideas of Heaven and Hell also interfere with our understanding what the Scriptures say. When we read the Old Testament we a see a wrathful, vengeful God. I believe the statement, “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is a way of saying justice requires equal payment. This was made on the cross by the perfect sinless human who took our sins upon himself. But the writers of the Old Testament were unregenerate. They had a temporary experience of the Holy Spirit coming upon them, but they understood and spoke from hardened hearts that were uncircumcised. So this view of a wrathful God spills into the New Testament, even though all that Jesus said and did showed the opposite. Consequently, Hell and the Lake of Fire have been viewed as places of punishment. I don’t believe that at all.

I see Hell as a prison until the trial of the White Throne Judgment, and the Lake of Fire as the choice of those who rejected the salvation of Christ. God is not putting them there, they made the choice in their physical life. I think the expression of where “the worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched” is a picture of decomposition. We are born spiritually dead in our transgressions and sins. All of our life is the gradual decomposition of the body unto death we call aging. Rejecting Christ in this life is to hold fast to the living death which is already our existence. This is why the Lake of Fire is called the Second Death. The Lake of Fire is simply where all the angels and people are contained that reject God. The fire is the endless decomposition of their lives.

Lastly, the idea that a person can repent after they die does not fly with me. Even though the story of Lazarus and the rich man is an illustration that gaining riches in this life is useless in the next life, one take away from the story is the reply of Abraham to the rich man’s request to send someone from the dead to warn them: “They have Moses and the Prophets. If they do not believe them, then neither will they believe someone who comes back from the dead.” I am convinced that when Jesus preached the Gospel in Hades, only those who died in faith believed him and came out of the grave with him at his resurrection. Consider Esau. After he sold his birthright (to be in the line of the Messiah) the Scriptures say,

Heb 12:16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.
Heb 12:17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

Being sorry for what you did is not the same as repentance.

2Co_7:10 For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.

Those that are in the Lake of Fire will only have the sorrow of the world that works death, not a godly sorrow.

As a final thought. The believers in universal salvation are our brothers and sisters in Christ. They come from all kinds of Christian backgrounds.  This doctrine has no cause for separating them or ostracizing them. They believe in the basics of Christianity like the rest of us. I said earlier that I believe Calvinism is a demonic doctrine, yet Calvinists who know the Lord are still my family in Christ.

God allows every man to be fully persuaded in their own minds. If they trust Jesus in the basics, shouldn’t we love them as our family? Who are we to judge another man’s servant, God will defend and protect his own.

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