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Sunday, March 5, 2017

The Popular Heresy of Universal Salvation and Why We Should Not Hope For It

Only Christians will go to heaven
Universal Salvation(1) – the belief that Christ will save all men regardless of their beliefs - is a hot topic lately.

This is largely due to the popularity of The Shack.(2) 

As Christians, it should be our heart's desire to share Christ so men and women will come to a knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4).

But hoping God will save unrepentant men who reject Christ means hoping God is lying about salvation in His Word. We should never hope for that (Titus 1:1-3).

If we can't trust what God says about hell, how can we trust what He says about heaven or anything else?(3)

When confronted with clear Biblical principles, I sometimes hear Christians say, "Well that depends on how you interpret Scripture."

Christians interpret a number of non-essential doctrines differently.  But we agree on the essential doctrines of faith in Christ which are clearly presented in Scripture, and hell is one of those doctrines.
Only Christians will go to heaven
(1) Universal Salvation is different from Universalism. Universalism teaches that many paths lead to God. Universal Salvation teaches that through Christ all men will be saved whether they repent and turn to Him or not. 
(2) The current popularity of Universal Salvation has been fueled by The Shack’s message that God forgives all men and saves all men regardless of their beliefs. Please see:
5 Errors About God in "The Shack"
5 Errors About Salvation in "The Shack"
(3)  Former mega pastor Rob Bell suggested in his 2011 book Love Wins that it was "fitting and proper" for Christians to long for Universal Salvation. It should be no surprise that Bell no longer sees the Bible as God's Word (Source). 

Bible Study

1. God is not vague about the existence of hell and the punishment of the unrepentant.  

When we suggest that a good God would not send men to hell, we are really saying that we know more about goodness than God does.

Matthew 25:46: "Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

2 Thessalonians 1:9: They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might  
Only Christians will be saved

Jude 1:7: In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

There are many passages about hell in Scripture. Here's a few more: Matthew 5:29Matthew 7:13; Matthew 10:28; Matthew 23:33; Luke 12:5; Luke 16:19-31

2. Not only does the Bible teach there is a place of eternal punishment called hell, it teaches that only those who commit their lives to Christ will be saved from that second death.

Romans 10:9: If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  

Matthew 10:32: "Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven."

1 John 5:12Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

3. We need to be like the Bereans - those in Acts who checked everything against Scripture:

Acts 17:11: Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 

Universal Salvation teaches all men will be saved through Jesus, unrepentant sinner and repentant believer, atheist, Satanist, Buddhist, Muslim and Christian alike. While ignoring or "reinterpreting" clear descriptions about eternal punishment in Scripture, they make their case with passages like 1 Timothy 4:10: “…the living God, who is the Savior of all people.” 

Context is so important. The complete passage reads “the living God, who is the Savior of all people and especially of those who believe.” 

If 1 Timothy 4:10 were the only passage about salvation in Scripture, I think there would be a case for Universal Salvation. We would still need to explain what "especially of those who believe" means, but it could be done. But adding 1 Timothy 4:10 to the scores of other passages about salvation gives us the true meaning.

Like 1 Timothy 4:10, John 3:16  says God so loved the world (all the world) but it makes the "especially those who believe" part clearer by saying that "whosoever believes" has eternal life. 

The need to know all that Scripture teaches about a subject is made especially clear in this example using Scriptures about prayer: Pieces Parts

Dear Christians, we must guard our hearts (Proverbs 4:23) against false philosophies which sound attractive on the surface but place man's wisdom above God's wisdom (Colossians 2:8). 
copyright 2017, Gail Burton Purath, BiteSizeBibleStudy.com

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