Friday 6 November 2015

Universalism: The Ancient Heresy

Despite the date above and due to the fact this was posted early by accident, it should say Friday 18th of December and not the Friday 6th of November. My apologies.

One of the oldest heresies, alongside Docetism, Anti-Trinitarianism and Gnosticism to ever enter the church, is Universalism. It has been embraced by many in this day and age and doesn't seem to be a heresy that is going to die anytime soon despite many refutations existing.

Where it came from may be explored in another article if the Lord Wills but for now, I think this will suffice.

Universalism is a heresy that (like all heresies) cannot be ignored. Does this teaching have biblical basis, or are the ones proclaiming it guilty of distorting the scriptures as Peter states in his second letter? We'll find out and those who know my position on the matter will probably know what my stance is on the issue.

If Universalism is true, Then we can happily embrace it and those who teach such, but if it can be shown that Universalism is in fact false and that the scriptures teach to the contrary, then those who teach it are teaching a doctrine of demons and those who believe in the heresy of universalism need to repent and shun it.

The apostles gave us numerous warnings NOT to fellowship with false teachers and that doing so means partaking of their evil deeds.

Ignatius of Antioch demonstrated a perfect attitude to how we should see the false teachers as well in his letter to the Smyrnaeans:
"Chapter IV.-Beware of These Heretics.

I give you these instructions, beloved, assured that ye also hold the same opinions [as I do]. But I guard you beforehand from those beasts in the shape of men, whom you must not only not receive, but, if it be possible, not even meet with; only you must pray to God for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance, which, however, will be very difficult. Yet Jesus Christ, who is our true life, has the power of [effecting] this. But if these things were done by our Lord only in appearance, then am I also only in appearance bound. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact, ] he who is near to the sword is near to God; he that is among the wild beasts is in company with God; provided only he be so m the name of Jesus Christ. I undergo all these things that I may suffer together with Him, He who became a perfect man inwardly strengthening me.

I give you these instructions, beloved, assured that ye also hold the same opinions [as I do]. But I guard you beforehand from these beasts in the shape of men, from whom you must not only turn away, but even flee from them. Only you must pray for them, if by any means they may be brought to repentance. For if the Lord were in the body in appearance only, and were crucified in appearance only, then am I also bound in appearance only. And why have I also surrendered myself to death, to fire, to the sword, to the wild beasts? But, [in fact, ] I endure all things for Christ, not in appearance only, but in reality, that I may suffer together with Him, while He Himself inwardly strengthens me; for of myself I have no such ability."

Some may perceive it unkind or hurtful to refer to people as "wild beasts" or "vile" or such a similar set of terminology, there is a biblical allowance for such language. See my previous article on this issue:

To further expand on that issue, Ignatius encourages the congregation to pray for the salvation of the heretics, so that they maybe saved.

The only way to love the creator God, is to believe in Jesus and it's only through Jesus that we can know the Father. Any other religion will NOT bring you to salvation nor will help you come closer to God. Every man cannot have their spiritual and emotional needs met unless the God of the Bible has dominion over their life in the sense of being under his Lordship.

Furthermore, to quote the words of David Pawson "Christians KNOW the love of God because they have experienced it and are in position to UNDERSTAND it". To preach God's love without the individual experiencing it and understanding it is very dangerous, for it gives the audience the impression that God is tolerant and indulgent and overlooks sin. God's love itself can only be understood once one has been regenerated.

Biblical texts often cited by universalists
Here in this section, we'll tackle the relevant texts that many universalists bring up to justify their teachings. Let us look at them.

"Romans 5:6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men[a] because all sinned— 13 for sin indeed was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not counted where there is no law. 14 Yet death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam, who was a type of the one who was to come.

15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if many died through one man's trespass, much more have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for many. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man's sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man's trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

18 Therefore, as one trespass[b] led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness[c] leads to justification and life for all men. 19 For as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous. 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."

Paul refers to in the context what happened at the time of conversion, namely while the believers before their conversion were lost and were enemies of God, Christ has now set them free. The text is explicit to point out that the exclusivity of salvation, the position that Christ ALONE saves, is evident not only on a surface reading, but also a careful handling and exegesis of the text.

While the grace of God may be open to all, that doesn't mean all will receive, only Christ himself can quicken the individual and bring about redemption. It is by the grace of God that man can come into the faith.

Salvation is open to all, but unless man is quickened and repents toward God, he shall NOT be the recipient of eternal life.

"Romans 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
    we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I have spoken on this text in another article:

In addition to the article provided, The text in context is referring to the believers in Jesus and who will separate them from the Love of God. The unbelievers are already condemned and separated from God and it is their own sin that will keep them away from God and his presence for eternity. The statement of not being separated from Christ by external means are only applicable to those are in Christ Jesus, Not to those are not of his sheep.

"Romans 11:15 For if their rejection means the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance mean but life from the dead?"

"Romans 11:25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers:[a] a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
    he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”;
27 “and this will be my covenant with them
    when I take away their sins.”
28 As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. 29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, 31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now[b] receive mercy. 32 For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.

33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,
    or who has been his counselor?”
35 “Or who has given a gift to him
    that he might be repaid?”"

The believers in Jesus are the ones who have received mercy, since Paul is addressing those particular churches. There is nothing even in the text to suggest that "all" literally means all men will be saved. The usage of the word all has to be defined in context.

"Colossians 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by[a] him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross."

Who is the body that Jesus is the head of in the context, the church, not the unbelievers. Jesus is sovereign over all, but not all submit to his Lordship. The emphasis on ALL here is on the nature of Jesus, namely where all things derive their existence from, who is the one by all things consist and that Christ has dominion over creation as YHWH God. Paul is NOT saying that all human beings are going to be saved, he is only making the point on who is the creator of all things and sustainer of all things, namely Jesus Christ.

"1 Corinthians 15:19 If in Christ we have hope[a] in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.

20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For “God[b] has put all things in subjection under his feet.” But when it says, “all things are put in subjection,” it is plain that he is excepted who put all things in subjection under him. 28 When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to him who put all things in subjection under him, that God may be all in all.

29 Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?"

There are two different alls that are being conveyed here. In Adam, all man are dead in sin and transgression, depraved and unfit for doing good. We have inherited the sin of Adam, the adamic nature.

The all in Christ statements are not saying all men are in Christ, we have a secondary all that is present. The all will be made alive in Christ refers to those who have been drawn to Christ and are under his lordship. Not every human on this planet submits or is even in Jesus' flock, hence the all who are made alive in Christ, cannot refer to those who are enslaved to another religion but only to those who belong to Jesus. Even the context says "those who belong to him".

As for the baptism of the dead, Paul is referring to a practice by pagans and using them as an illustration to drive the point home that even the pagans know that there is a Day of Reckoning. The baptism for the dead is not a reference to Christian baptism, but to pagan baptism.

"2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling[b] the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."

"1 John 4:14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world."

The very context of the two passages speaks itself, it even EXPLICITLY says "if anyone IS IN CHRIST". Only those who are in Christ Jesus will be the recipients of eternal life and if God has quickened an individual, they will only receive eternal life IF they repent. Only those in Jesus who have repented and accepted his offer of salvation will be reconciled to God. Those who are not in Christ are not a new creation, they are dead and lost.

In fact to expand on the context of 1 John, let's take a look at chapter 2, specifically the following verses:
"1 John 2:21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us[f]—eternal life."

If anyone denies Jesus Christ and they do not repent, they do NOT receive eternal life, neither in this age, nor in the age to come.

"John 12:30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show by what kind of death he was going to die."

Ellicot has an interesting comment on this particular context:
"Will draw all men unto me.—Better, . . . unto Myself. The words “all men” are not to be limited by interpretations which refer them to nations, or to elect persons within nations; but are to be taken in all the fulness of their width as meaning simply what they say—“all.” The drawing unto Himself is the assertion of His reign over the world, from which the prince of evil shall be cast out. He will Himself be the centre of the new kingdom, from which none shall be shut out. These Greeks who are drawn to Him now are the first-fruits of the harvest of which the whole world is the field, and of which the last day is to be the great ingathering. The word “draw” occurs once in the New Testament, besides this passage, in a moral sense (John 6:44; comp. Note on it there). It is accomplished in the work of the Holy Spirit, whose mission to the Church was dependent on the ascension of our Lord (John 7:39; John 16:7); and the promise is fulfilled even in the case of those who resist the Holy Spirit’s influence. They are drawn by the moral power of the life and death and resurrection of Christ brought home to them by the Holy Ghost; but no moral power can compel a will which is free. (Comp. Note on John 6:37.) The whole mission-work of the Church and every effort which Christianity brings to bear upon the evil of the world implies this moral drawing; and implies, too, the power of man to reject it. But we may not say this moral power is not leading men to Christ, where we can least trace it, and we may not say that there is any limit where its influence ends. (Comp. Note on 1Peter 3:19.)"

"John 12:46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day."

Jesus isn't denying he will judge on the last day. Looking at both texts from John 12, just read in between the verses at the context and you'll see what the context is actually saying:
"34 The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”

35 Then Jesus told them, “You are going to have the light just a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. Whoever walks in the dark does not know where they are going. 36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.” When he had finished speaking, Jesus left and hid himself from them."

Why is Jesus telling his hearers to believe in the light? There wouldn't be such an exhortation if universalism is even remotely true.

"Luke 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet,

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,[a]
    make his paths straight.
5 Every valley shall be filled,
    and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall become straight,
    and the rough places shall become level ways,
6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’”"

"Matthew 18:12 What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly, I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of my[a] Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish."

Putting aside the issue of loosing ones salvation or not, let's look carefully. In Matthew, Jesus is speaking about himself going after one of the believers who are going astray and him bringing that believer back. The sheep in context are believers, not unbelievers. As for the context of Luke, all men will see the salvation of God, but not all receive salvation.

"1 Timothy 3 This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, 4 who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man[a] Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time."

"2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you,[a] not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance."

"1 Timothy 4:9 The saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance. 10 For to this end we toil and strive,[b] because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe."

"1 John 2:2 He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world."

In the four texts, Christ is the Saviour of all men, but not all men will be saved, simply because the atonement of Jesus will only cover those who have repented and in the Old Testament as anyone should know, the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur would only cover the Jewish people who repented, not every single Jew. No Repentance, No Salvation, plain and simple.

God desires man to come to repentance and without repentance, you will perish. A call to repentance is part and parcel of the Gospel.

As for the texts in Philippians and Revelation, let's take a look what they actually say.

"Philippians 2:5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,[b] being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

"Revelation 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
    and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God
    from every tribe and language and people and nation,
10 and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God,
    and they shall reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, 12 saying with a loud voice,

“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might
and honor and glory and blessing!”
13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
14 And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped."

The context of those confessing Jesus as Lord in Philippians 2 is a reference to what will happen when Jesus returns. Unbelievers realize their beliefs and life were wrong and though they bow the knee to Jesus, but it is too late for them to come to Jesus and be saved and they shall go away into everlasting fire and judgement.

The individuals found in Revelation are those who PRAISE YHWH as their God, not those who deny him or give lip service to him. Those who are singing in the context have salvation and are not lost. People who deny Jesus or pay lip service, will not truly glorify Jesus at all.

What Jesus and the apostles had to say and the problems with Universalism
Universalism of all types diminishes the urgency of the Gospel and the wrath of God. While some may argue that God may let the individual out of hell after a time of cleansing, such thinking also diminishes the two points I have already mentioned above. If all man will be saved outside of Christ, what was the point of him coming? Doesn't saying hell is temporary or doesn't exist take away from the fact that YHWH is a God of wrath and that sin is something offensive to him?

For that matter, the book of Hebrews makes it very clear what happens after death.

"Hebrews 9:23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him."

Men will stand before Christ to be judged. Why fear the judgement of God if hell is temporary or nonexistent? After all, If hell exists and universalism is true, the unbeliever can say to in essence "Hmm, God is going to cleanse me in hell after my death, Why accept Jesus now? it appears to me that I can indulge in idolatry and other sins and while I may suffer from Judgement for a time, It appears to me that I can say enjoy the blessings of heaven".

Don't misunderstand me, I am not saying universalists claim that this is the mind set that they are putting into unbelievers into, I am saying that it is a mindset that the unbeliever themselves derive this conclusion from the universalist, even if it is NOT the universalist's intention. But this is the danger they are actually putting the unbeliever in. It's a dangerous game for the unbeliever to play.

Let us not forget what Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23:
"15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.

21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’"

This doesn't sound like a Jesus that is eventually going to let a sinful individual into heaven now does it? Jesus even tells us who are the ones who will enter, those who do the will of the Father and absolutely no one else.

Take also into consideration that hell is NOT a cleansing fire. The demons who have no salvation are terrified of hell. If even the demons have a fear of God's judgement, are we not to fear judgement and repent toward God? At least humanity has been granted a second chance to be reconciled to God has it not? But this second chance is only applicable in this life and this life alone. Again, this is where urgency comes into play.

Two examples from video gaming are worth an illustration here, Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask and Final Fantasy XIII-3: Lightning Returns. In both scenarios, both protagonists are under pressure to save individuals from coming destruction, with limited time on their hands. Putting aside game mechanics and time travel or time manipulation of both games as they are not relevant to this issue, there is a sense of urgency in the context of the stories that is thrust on the two protagonists as they roam across their lands, helping individuals and doing what they can to save as many as they possibly can.

The apostles of Jesus Christ were sent out on a mission to make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and bringing them to repentance, teaching them to obey everything Jesus commanded them. God quickens an individual, enabling them to respond to the Gospel, but nevertheless, charges his followers to spread the message of the Gospel, for he has commanded all to repent:

"Acts 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,[c] 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything. 26 And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, 27 that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, 28 for

“‘In him we live and move and have our being’;[d]
as even some of your own poets have said,

“‘For we are indeed his offspring.’[e]
29 Being then God's offspring, we ought not to think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of man. 30 The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, 31 because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.”

32 Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked. But others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 33 So Paul went out from their midst. 34 But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them."

If Universalism of ANY kind were true, we would not receive such a command from God. If all men are saved, be it no judgement or just in hell for only a little while they are being cleansed, why on earth would God command all men to repent? There would be no need to present the Gospel at all, we could just let man continue about their daily lives with not a care in this world.

Also, The argument that one converts after their death or post mortem is also completely bogus. If you die in a sinful state, you REMAIN in such. There is no cleansing of your sin, either in hell or purgatory.  Hell is retribution, NOT restoration. Hell is not a place where God can simply clean you up so you can enter the kingdom of heaven, It is a place where people who reject God shall be spending eternity, NOT a long time and then it ends.

But more than that, Hell cuts you off from the presence of YHWH. There will be no prayer to God, there will be no such ability to do so as God is not there to hear you. Hell is banishment, not just punishment. Does this sound like a place where you want to go? Does this sound like a place where you can be purified? If there is no God to purify you in hell and hell is NOT a purification of man, what is the logical step? You have weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:38-50, 24:51, Matthew 25:30 and Luke 13:28 to name a few texts) , regret for not accepting God and cursing him for eternity.

If there is no God in hell, man is evil and unrestrained, doomed to be depraved for eternity, no restoration, no escape, no reprieve, no compassion, just eternity in hell away from God.

David Pawson in this link conveys the horrors of hell very effectively in this video:

Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, none shall come to the Father but by him. Is Jesus telling us a lie here? I don't think so. I do not believe Jesus will tell lies at all. He meant what he said.

Some could try to argue those who never have heard the Gospel will be saved by what they know to be right. While it is true man will be judged by his conscience if he has not heard the Gospel, that isn't going to save him, as man will violate his conscience and is in a state of rebellion against God. Why assume they are innocent of any charge? Even the most lovely people you could meet need the Gospel just as much as the drug dealer or prostitute down the street. Why did Jesus say make disciples of all nations (ethnic groups) if again this was the case and if again universalism is true?

More than that, let us observe the following from John 3 shall we?

"John 3:1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus[a] by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again[b] he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.[c] 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You[d] must be born again.’ 8 The wind[e] blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”

9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you[f] do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man.[g] 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.[h]"

Notice here what we have. Jesus himself makes very clear that only those who have been born again and regenerated can enter heaven. The scenario in the Old Testament with Moses is utilized by Jesus for a reason. Only those who looked upon the serpent would reap the benefits offered by it, namely if an individual was bitten by the snake, they would gaze upon the bronze snake and thus the venom would not kill them:

"Numbers 21:4 From Mount Hor they set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom. And the people became impatient on the way. 5 And the people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this worthless food.” 6 Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. 7 And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze[c] serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live."

Jesus is making the point that those who look upon him truly will reap the benefits of eternal life, no ifs, no buts. The argument cannot be made that upon death, God sanctifies the sinner, that is not a valid answer and is a cop out.

To take this even further we read the following in John 3 again:
"John 3:16 “For God so loved the world,[i] that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”"

Those who do not turn to Christ and repent will NOT receive life and it includes those who do NOT remain in Jesus. It is clear here that universalism is NOT found on the words of Jesus. If an individual loves darkness, Why should he or she be a recipient of the light? Man loves darkness and if he continues to do so, he will not enter the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Jesus also says the following in John 8 that further drives this point home:

"John 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.”"

If any version of universalism was true, we would not expect Jesus to give us this warning at all. There is no need warn about the risk of dying in ones sins and not only would that be the case, it would render Jesus' own words as vacuous. That is a thought I don't believe any Christian should entertain and logically if one holds to universalism, it may lead them to serious blasphemy and slander of Jesus.

Scroll down to the section on life and death in this article:

If you look at the references in John, they all highlight a common thread:
John 3:16
John 6:53
John 8:24
John 11:25-26
John 20:31

I have already commented on John 3:16 earlier in this paper, but let us all take a look at John 6:53:
"John 6:44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink."

If hell is not eternal? Why should heaven be considered as eternal? Why is it OK for one to be eternal, but not the other. If hell is not eternal, then heaven itself is also a temporary abode, if we were to accept the idea that Hell is temporary.

Matthew Henry notes the following about the context:
"6:47-51 The advantage of the manna was small, it only referred to this life; but the living Bread is so excellent, that the man who feedeth on it shall never die. This bread is Christ's human nature, which he took to present to the Father, as a sacrifice for the sins of the world; to purchase all things pertaining to life and godliness, for sinners of every nation, who repent and believe in him."

Obviously the death that is present in the context of John 6 is spiritual death, that those who believe in Jesus despite their physical death, we be raised to eternal life. If one is not in Jesus and if they deny him, they will not receive eternal life. They'll be raised from physical death, but will be damned. This is what makes Jesus statement in John 8:24 so important to take on board that unless we accept Jesus here and NOW, not post mortem, we will not be saved.

To jump quickly to John 11:23-27 and 20:30-31 we read:
"11:23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life.[d] Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”"

"20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."
This statement from John 20 explains his reason for writing the Gospel, to keep believers in Jesus, to encourage them to go on believing, that those who do continue trusting in him will be saved. Nothing implicitly (I say this lest someone try to go that route) or explicitly tells us that unbelievers will eventually be saved post mortem or purified in hell. Only those who believe will be saved, referring to those who are trusting in Jesus now and forever in this life. It is implicitly there without having to contrive an excuse from thin air. John 11 itself also demonstrates that those who believe will be saved and not those who are not believers.

Going back to the Sermon on the Mount, We read this:
"Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven."

The text speaks for itself, but more than that, here is a question to you all, Does the righteous of fallen man exceed that of the Pharisees in Jesus day? I think not, so immediate disqualification is present.

We also see in Paul's letters and in the book of Revelation a list (not comprehensive) of sinners who will not be saved:

"Revelation 21:5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. 7 The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”"

A very serious point made in the book of Revelation. See also the following texts for more information: (1 Corinthians 5:11, 6:9, 6:18, Galatians 5:19-21, 1 John 3:7, Hebrews 12:14).

I ask every universalist to try to reconcile these passages with their doctrinal belief, I guarantee, you won't unless you take the text out of context.

Some will try to say "Well the early church were universalists and were never condemned for their beliefs.".

Here's the problem, to say Universalism was taught by the early church because it wasn't condemned at that time but only later is an argument from silence. The fact the Bible itself doesn't teach universalism condemns their heresy regardless of a council, just as Anti Trinitarianism is condemned by the Bible regardless of a council opposing it. Tertullian in his letter against Praexeus condemned Modalism. Are we to assume that Modalism is valid just because a council condemned it later and not back when it first arose? A council isn't the ultimate authority, the Bible is, but that doesn't mean it is the only authority. The council as an authority can be used but the council itself is subordinate to the Bible.

I may comment more on the Church Fathers in another paper if the Lord Wills.

The argument that the world hell is never used is also an argument from silence. If a Trinitarian Universalist specifically uses tries this argument, it most certainly cannot be used and it backfires.

To give a few examples, Lest anyone use the argument that the word Trinity is not in the Bible, this doesn't refute the doctrine, as there are doctrines in various religions that don't use terms found in their scriptures, like shituf. The late Dr Immanuel Schochet explains what Shituf is and how it applies in a given situation in his debate with Michael Brown in part 7 of the debate (7:04-7:57):

Does the name not appearing in the Bible refute shituf? No. Shituf would only be refuted if it is not in the scriptures. Likewise, the Trinity would only be subject to refutation IF the doctrine wasn't there in the scriptures. The name doesn't have to be there, as long as the concept exists in the context of the scriptures, then it matters not if the term is used.

Ergo, Even if the word hell isn't used, it matters not, what matters is if the teaching itself is present in scripture, which is the case. The same argument applies to universalism and annihilationism, both terms don't appear, but as long as they are already in the scripture, that's what matters and the case is, both universalism and annihilationism are NOT scriptural but are antithetical to scripture.

If the argument that the word hell is not in the Bible then the teaching is false, then the word Trinity not being in the Bible makes the Trinity false. Inconsistency is a sign of a failed argument as the saying goes.

Does denying universalism mean that we are denying God's power? No. He could save all if he so choose, but the question is, Why should he?

God is under no obligation to save anyone. He is not going to let anyone into his presence if they are unholy, such a thing is not going to happen and it's against his nature. As pointed out earlier, hell is not redemptive, it is punitive. The very fact that Jesus sent Christians out on the mission to preach the Gospel shows that universalism isn't true, be it an outright denial of hell, or even an acknowledgement of hell as a temporary cleansing. If someone dies cursing God, that's the eternal choice they make, they will be judged and sentenced.

Someone who dies in their sin doesn't cease sinning. The only people that stop sinning upon death are believers in Jesus and that is due to the fact that they have been justified and sanctified by Christ and will enter glorification. The unbelievers die in their sins and will receive the judgement of God. Death does not cause unbelievers to stop sinning. It's a radical assumption to make unless you want to argue annihilationism (In that case a sinner who dies without Christ stops sinning because they no longer exist). Also, The atheist and agnostic (Not saying they believe they are sinners) can at least argue someone will stop doing bad upon death, but also good, considering death is a permanent end with no hope of an afterlife. So in the atheist view, they stop doing things period, including doing bad.

Getting back to what I said about God being under no obligation to grant salvation, The fact is, NO ONE has the right to go to heaven, it is a privilege granted by grace. No one deserves heaven, let alone a chance to breathe. He could even wipe someone out if he so wished. Why should God allow us into heaven when we have offended him and why should the Father send Jesus to die for our sins if we ourselves don't deserve it? Grace is the reason why. God is love, but mentioned earlier, we can only appreciate and know the love of God through experience which leads us to understanding it. Our sinful love must never be imposed on that of God. You can only truly understand what biblical love (Not sinful love) is if you have experienced it, or even given it to another.

To ask how can a loving God send anyone to hell, shows a failure to understand the love of God. It unfortunately takes a view of God's love that is shallow, tolerant and indulgent. Namely it conveys the idea that God will accept your sin as a viable lifestyle choice, which biblically he would not share that view with you. A sinful love is precisely shallow, tolerant and indulgent. If you truly care about someone, you warn them. If you were a child, how many times have your parents said "Go to bed early" or "Don't play on the Nintendo for too long, take a break"? I am not saying those are the only examples but how many times has a parent warned and guided you? Why do they do it, because they love you and want what's best for you. God desires man to be holy, not just because it is pleasing to him, but it's your purpose. You purpose is to glorify him and love him, not use God as a butler for material gain or use him as part of the law of attraction garbage. God is not a slave, you are to be his.

Shouldn't it move Christians to warn of the coming judgement of God and tell the unbelievers they need Jesus to be saved, or even exhort church congregations to repent before they are lost? Why bother, When we can just let them be cleansed by the fires of hell? and no the section in Paul's first letter to the Corinthians is not an example of hellfire cleansing and even the context establishes Jesus to be the only foundation to build on:

"3:11 For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw— 13 each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire."

The reference in question refers to church leaders building the church. A foundation has to be built on Jesus Christ, lest it will fall. There is indeed nothing to suggest that the fire is a cleansing fire akin to purgatory or a cleansing fire in hell.

I recommend this article by Keith Thompson for more information on 1 Corinthians 3:12-15:

Do we deny good news?
The word Gospel means good news. Do we Christians who teach biblical hellfire and not heretical universalism deny that the Gospel is good news? Absolutely not, we affirm it is good news.

The good news of the Gospel is Jesus came to die and rise again. He paid the penalty for your sin so that through repentance and faith, you'll be born again, justified by faith and saved by grace. That is the good news, that God came to save you from your sins and that if you trust in him continually, you'll have eternal life.

If you are a universalist, What good news are you presenting? That God will save all and cleanse them in hell and bring them out? If so, then why bother preaching at all? It renders the Great Commission a waste of time, money and attention, just like the pretentious and blasphemous rock opera "Jesus Christ Superstar". There literally is NO point you going to the ends of the earth to bring any news, You might as well say nothing. And if universalism is false and you do not give the message of the Gospel, you'll be guilty of sending millions to hell because you didn't give them the Gospel message that tells them to repent. I'll let that sink in for a moment.

We Christians who preach hellfire don't claim that hell is torture for torture sake or that God get's some perverse pleasure out of seeing people suffer. God doesn't take pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23 and 33:11) and Jesus tells us that there is much rejoicing in heaven over the repentance of one sinner (Luke 15:7-10).

I had mentioned earlier that the Day of Atonement only cover those who repented and turned to God. It is very much the same with Christ's atonement. Even Michael L Brown in his discussion with Shmuley Boteach noted that "Without my repentance, the blood is meaningless. Jesus died on the cross but if I don't turn to him in repentance and faith, it's meaningless".

When to mention Hell?
Some may raise the argument that the apostles never used hell as part of their evangelistic crusades as an argument against hell, that we shouldn't scare people into following Jesus. First of all, there is a difference between fear tactics and pointing out the coming judgement. Furthermore, there are examples in the New Testament where someone who is warned of the coming judgement and fear seizes them.

Furthermore, just because hell wasn't mentioned to the unbelievers, that doesn't change the fact that there is a risk of the unbeliever going there. Usually when hell is spoken about, it is spoken as a warning to the believers, not to the unbelievers. Jesus spoke more times about hell than anyone else in the scriptures.

To give an example of someone's fear being present with respect to judgement, we observe the following in Acts 24:
"22 But Felix, having a rather accurate knowledge of the Way, put them off, saying, “When Lysias the tribune comes down, I will decide your case.” 23 Then he gave orders to the centurion that he should be kept in custody but have some liberty, and that none of his friends should be prevented from attending to his needs.

24 After some days Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, and he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 And as he reasoned about righteousness and self-control and the coming judgment, Felix was alarmed and said, “Go away for the present. When I get an opportunity I will summon you.” 26 At the same time he hoped that money would be given him by Paul. So he sent for him often and conversed with him. 27 When two years had elapsed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus. And desiring to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison."

Felix was actually terrified at the prospect of the coming judgement but instead of repentance, he turns Paul away, so that he could continue in his sins. His conscience was pricked by what Paul had told him. Sounds like to me mentioning judgement is a valid evangelistic tool to me and would no doubt even be useful in today's churches in the West.

Universalism I believe doesn't instill this warning in people as I have stated earlier, it gives people the false impression that God will cleanse them in hell rather than punish them eternally there.

The onus of proof is on the universalist to demonstrate that hell is a cleansing process or even non existent, and to be honest, there is no such evidence.

Here are some articles I recommend on universalism:

Some claim Universalism is the logical conclusion of Arminianism, however this isn't the case and I shall provide an article here below:

I if the Lord Wills will take a look into more arguments in the future,

Answering Judaism.

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