Are We Universalists?

Question from a Site Viewer
Brother, from your statement of faith, and the way you seem to view “world” I take it you are a universalist? That all men will be saved because Christ took away the sins of the “world”?

Tim’s Answer
Thank you for your question about universalists. Universalists are those who believe that all people ultimately will be saved. This is not what Scripture states, nor what we believe. You reference our statement of faith. If you review it, you will see that we believe that the wicked will go to eternal punishment. Also, we have a poem entitled Bound For Hell that briefly expresses our beliefs in poetic form. In our article entitled Love Your Neighbor as Yourself, we again state that there is a hell for those who do not follow Jesus.

Our belief is simple. We believe that Jesus died to pay for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). We believe that He is the Savior, and the only Savior, of all men (1 Timothy 4:10). We believe that He came to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). We believe that God has been reconciled to the world (2 Corinthians 5:19). We believe these things because this is what Scripture says. We do not try to develop alternate explanations for these passages. We simply accept them for what they say within their own contexts.

But we do not believe that because Jesus died for the whole world, therefore all the world is saved. Rather, Scripture teaches that though God is reconciled with the world, the world still needs to be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:19-20). We believe that individuals must make a choice to believe in Christ in order to be saved. This is why we plead with people to be reconciled with God. We believe salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10:8-13). We believe that faith comes from hearing and responding to the Word (Romans 10:13-17; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2; Galatians 3:2-5; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). We believe that all who believe in Jesus Christ will have eternal life (John 3:16, 36; 5:24). We believe that those who do not believe in Christ will suffer eternal judgment (John 3:18). We believe that there is no salvation in any other name (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). We do not think that Jesus would have died if there was some other way to God.

Perhaps your question arises because some teach that everyone for whom Christ died will be saved. Those who believe this tend to limit the atonement (or the death of Christ) to be only for the elect. But in our reading of Scripture, this is not true. Christ died for the false prophets in 2 Peter and they certainly are not saved. Christ died for the world and the “world,” in any study of Scripture or in Johannine thought, is not the church or the elect. We do not believe that the world will be saved, although we believe that some in the world will turn to Jesus and be saved. Unfortunately, and to our great regret and sorrow, Jesus teaches that most will reject Him, and only a few will enter the narrow gate (Matthew 7:14).

We believe that God extends the invitation of life to all men. He said that He would draw all men to Him (John 12:32). He commands all to repent (Acts 17:30). He wills all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). He is not willing that any perish (2 Peter 3:10). But unfortunately, there are those who will not open the door to the knock of Jesus (Revelation 3:20). To those who receive Him, He gives the power to become sons of God (John 1:12). But many will not receive Him (John 1:11).

The great invitation of Scripture is for people to come to Christ (Revelation 22:17). And we want to be part of the great harvest of turning people from darkness to light, from ignorance of Christ to worshippers of Him. We also want to help build up the church of Jesus Christ which He purchased with His own blood.

We respect those who believe differently about the extent of the atonement. This includes those who may believe in limited atonement. We do not wish to denigrate them. We simply do not find such position supported, even though we read and seek to follow the same Scripture.

So, in response to your question, we are not universalists. With our God, we desire all people to be saved. We believe God has made provision in His grace for all to be saved. But we also understand from Scripture that the nature of humanity is to reject His grace and mercy and to turn from the fountain of living water and dig out cisterns that can hold no water. Most people will pursue their own paths, and will not turn to follow the living God. For such people who die without coming to the knowledge of Christ, we do not find any hope in the pages of Scripture. Scripture teaches both eternal bliss for those who come to God through Christ and eternal punishment for those who reject God’s one and only Hope for the world.

May the Lord Jesus guide you into Himself,

tim

Related Content:
Our Statement of Faith

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