The cry of Universalism is that all men will be saved regardless. That is, even the most hardened sinner will eventually make it into God’s new heaven and earth.
There are many scriptures which, taken alone, appear to confirm this. Jesus died once and for all. There is no doubt that He made the way clear for all men to be saved. But to use these verses alone would not do justice to the whole of the canon. It is always a mistake to rely on a context which begins with a premise. In short, we cannot ignore the passages of scripture which advocate choice.
In saying this, we are declaring that salvation is a matter of choice of the individual at some juncture or other. To simply say that Christ died for all and therefore all will be saved isn’t born out by scripture. Jesus Himself speaks of separating the wheat from the tares in one parable, where the wheat represent people planted by God and the tares people sown by the devil into the same field. The ultimate end will be separation of the wheat from the tares, with the tares cast away.
I do not know you
Then there is the parable of the ten virgins who were preparing for the marriage feast of the groom, who is the Christ. Five had oil in their lamps and were ready when he called, five had no oil, and were left behind, the groom saying, “I did not know you”. Which leads us to the statement by Jesus that there would be people who would knock on the doors of heaven and say, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name?’, yet Jesus will say, “Go away! I did not know you!”
Jesus said, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” This clearly tells us that not all will enter the kingdom of God.
There are many other examples of this – the wheat and the chaff, the sheep and the goats, the rich man and Lazarus, the invitation to the wedding feast.
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 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!’”
This leads us to the conclusion that, although Christ has made the way clear for people to enter, and all have been forgiven, not all will receive the free gift of salvation. This is because there is a choice involved. God offers the free pardon to all, and the way has been made clear for all, and the cross paid for all sin, but many will reject the gospel.
Preach the gospel
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.”
This is confirmed by Paul.
“For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.”
How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?
As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”
Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ. So the way is made clear for all to come in, but it is offered as a free gift. A gift, by nature, must be received or it is merely an offer. It is not thrust or forced upon a person, or it is an obligation, not a gift. It is not earned or bought, or it is not a gift. A gift must be offered and received.
By grace through faith
That is the way of it, and the simple explanation of the doctrine. Salvation is by grace through faith. It is not something which is accredited without faith. The only way to righteousness is through faith. Faith takes the grace offered. Faith works with grace and through love to bring the gift.
Salvation also comes through repentance, that is, a complete change of direction, from our ways to His Way. As the writer to the Hebrews says, “Now the just shall live by faith; but if anyone draws back, my soul has no pleasure in him.” But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.”
That is why, once we have received Christ, we are admonished to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. So Paul asks the question, “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
So, yes, Christ has died once and for all, but now it is up to those He died for to accept His offer of liberty in salvation by receiving Him as Lord and Saviour. Again, Paul says, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.””
The power of God to salvation for everyone who believes. Here, Paul qualifies it for us. Everyone who believes. The criteria, as always, is faith. We receive the gospel, we believe the gospel. This is what causes us to have righteousness accredited to us.
Speaking of the faith of Abraham, Paul shows us, again, how righteousness comes. It is imputed, or accredited through faith in God’s Promise, or Word.
“And therefore “it was accounted to him for righteousness.”
Now it was not written for his sake alone that it was imputed to him, but also for us. It shall be imputed to us who believe in Him who raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead, who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ…”
Righteousness is imputed to us who believe on Christ Jesus. We are justified by faith. That is how salvation comes. The offer is on the table. We have to take it. We have to receive it. We receive it through faith in Jesus.
This is not works. This is faith. God did everything through Jesus He had to do to forgive us and redeem us. But He left us with the decision to accept His offer. There is so much scripture on this it is almost impossible to miss unless you fail to look at it. I have only scratched the surface.
The universalist idea that all are saved regardless is not confirmed in scripture unless you leave out several substantial doctrinal passages, which conclusively declare that we need to preach the gospel to all the world, because Christ has given His life for all the world, but that all the world must come to Him and receive His offer through faith so they can be saved.
The just shall live by faith.
Post by Steve