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The Heresy of Christian Universalism
There is a school of theology out there which includes the idea of universal reconciliation and has come to be known as Christian Universalism. This is the belief that all human beings or fallen creatures will ultimately be restored to a right relationship with God. Although it would be nice to think that this is true, it goes against what the Bible actually teaches. What we need to understand is that our God is a God of love and mercy. However, He is also a righteous and Holy God who must punish sin. We cannot overemphasize the love of God to the point that we underemphasize His wrath against those who rebel against His rule of them (Romans 1:18,19).
I. Man's Sinfulness and God's Wrath
Romans 1-3 is quite clear that mankind is in rebellion against God. So much so that Paul, quoting the Old Testament, could say:
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none that understands, there is none that seeks after God."
And Romans 3:23 is quite clear that " all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
The Lord's anger against the rebellion of mankind makes His love and grace all the more remarkable. Romans 5:8 tells us that "God demonstrated His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us." God's anger against sin is great. However, His love and mercy are greater still. His love was shown by the fact that He sent His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins. He, the righteous, died for we the unrighteous, so that we might become righteous (II Corinthians 5:21). But what of those who refuse the grace of God and don't accept His Son as their substitute for sin?
II. God's Wrath Remains on the Unbelievers
Scripture is abundantly clear that those who reject the Son don't have life and that God's wrath remains on them (John 3:36). They have rejected God's only means of restoring a sinful humanity back to a right relationship with Him. And the consequences of not accepting the Son are grave indeed. It means that you are still subject to the wages of sin, which is death (Romans 6:23). This death is both physical and spiritual. A man without Christ is dead in treapasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), and separated from a holy God.
III. The Reality of Eternal Punishment
There is absolutely no place in Scripture that allows for a second chance after death. Man's fate seems to be sealed. And there is no evidence that man will repent of his rebellion after death. As C.S. Lewis once said:
"All that are in hell choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened."
Those who are in hell, are there because they continually defy the God who created and is sustaining the universe. And there is every indication that this is an eternal punishment. The interesting thing is that the exact same words that are used to indicate that our life as believers is eternal, are used of the eternality of hell as well. The Greek term " aionas ton aionon" literally means age of the ages, and is how the term 'forever' is expressed. This word is also used to describe the eternal worth of God Himself. For instance I Timothy 1:17 says "To the King eternal immortal, invisible, the only wise God be honor and glory forever and ever, amen."
And what does our Lord Jesus say about Hell? He believed that it is real and that it is eternal. For instance Christ taught:
"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 and two feet to be cast into the eternal fire" (Matthew 18:8).
In another passage, He says this:
"But these shall go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
Here we have the fate of the unrighteous and the righteous expressed in the same way. They are both eternal. The wonderful thing about the Gospel is that it saves people from the eternal damnation in Hell.
Those who would espouse the doctrine of Christian Universalism go against Scripture and are leading many astray. God is both loving and holy. These two attributes were expressed fully on the Cross of Calvary. This is where God so loved the world that He gave His Son, who became sin for us and experienced fully the wrath of God, on our behalf, so that we don't have to face an eternity separated from God. But those who will not accept this gift, freely given, will not and cannot be ultimately saved. The sacrifice of Jesus means absolutely nothing if man can enter heaven without claiming it.
Christian Universalism is a heretical teaching that cannot be reconciled with what the Bible tells us. Therefore we must reject it and accept the fact that not all will end up in Heaven and the rewards that it offers. It is my prayer that everyone who reads this article will make that eternal decision now to follow Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.