Saturday, December 5, 2009
Below is a doctrinal answer for what's termed in Christianity as Universalism, which is the belief that either all men are right now saved, or that all will be saved eventually regardless of free-will decisions. While God wills, and has made available salvation to all men and women, He will not abrogate, or nullify His authority as King, which includes moral government. As long as creatures have free-will, and knowledge of moral obligation, there will be moral government which includes of necessity rewards for praiseworthy behavior, and punishment for blameworthy behavior. As long as God, and others have an infinite value and our creatural selves have a finite value in comparison, there will be moral government. And, as we’re dealing with the infinite worth of God, the duration of both the remunerate (reward), and punitive (punishment) aspects of moral government will also be infinite. As our rewards will endure forever, so too will the punishments. Though I have a hope that at least the punishments will perhaps end in some far off future world, at this point in what God has revealed to me, this can only be a hope.
Though, it is most noteworthy that for one to embrace universalism (that all men are saved, or will be saved) there must first be a denial of free-will. For if there is no free-will, why would there be a punishment for wrong doing? But on the flip-side, why would there be rewards either? And all 3 things are taught in Scripture: 1) Free-will; 2) Rewards; and 3) Punishments.
Also noteworthy, all major religions of the world, including ancient mythologies teach both heaven and hells:
Judaism; Christianity; Islam; Buddhism; Hinduism; Norse mythology; Greek/Roman mythology; Egyptian mythology; et. al.
There is the imperative feeling of the Gospel, and an immanency, and an immediacy to the Gospel, the coming of the Kingdom, and of Christ's Second Advent:
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us; we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God. 2Cor 5:18-20.
And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. Acts 24:24-25
Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead. For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. 1Pet 4:4-6.
1. If all men are saved, what is the ministry of reconciliation? Didn't it already occur at the Cross? The grounds for reconciliation, but it is still imperative upon us to preach as ambassadors to those yet enemies by wicked works in their minds to be so reconciled.
2. Us? We're reconciled, but now we're ambassadors to them who are not yet reconciled. Why? Because those to whom we're sent have not yet received this reconciliation.
3. Why is God beseeching them by us? Why do we pray them in Christ's stead to be reconciled to God, if as in Universalism, all men are saved? Because as an act of free-will, all have not yet received.
4. Why are so strong of English words used above, beseeching, and praying, which implies a begging, an imploring? Because it's up to us, whether we listen, and receive the Gospel, whether we choose to be reconciled or not. This, too, is evidence that not all will choose to be reconciled. And it would be monstrous of God if He forced us into compliance, as if we're automatons, and not humans.
5. What was part of Paul's reasoning and remonstrating with Felix? Judgment to come. Did this mean that all will, or are saved? If so, then why did Felix tremble? Because he was in fear of his future, having a guilty conscience. And why did he not then repent at Paul's preaching though these things be true? Because he had his free-will decision, and chose to put it off for a more "convenient time", which may, or may not ever come.
6. What does "giving account" mean, if we're all to be saved? And what does "readiness" mean, if all men are saved, or will be saved? What would such immediacy or immanency mean? It would mean nothing if all are saved, or will be saved... where's the fire? What's the rush? It seems to "castrate" the severity and gravity of divine judgment.
7. Why is there a difference made here between the living and the dead? Because there are two separate judgments for the two classes, those alive in the spirit who will be judged before the Judgment Seat of Christ for their works (Rom 14:10-12; 1Cor 3:10-15; 2Cor 5:9-11), while the dead in spirit, those who die in their sins, will stand before the Great White Throne to be judged in terms of sentencing, dealing not with duration, but intensity of divine wrath (Psa 1:5-6; Rev 20:11-15). Thus there are two resurrections for each class, the living and the dead, and hence two separate judgments, the Resurrection of Life, and the Resurrection of Damnation (Jn 5:28-29).
8. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men 2Cor 5:11a. Thus we preach, that those who are now in a position where they would be judged as men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. Meaning that they would judge themselves now, for having lived in the flesh, that they might live in the spirit by the Precious Blood of Christ, and avoid future judgment in terms of the Great White Throne Judgment. As it is written, For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world. 1Cor 11:31-32, thus as Peter said, judged as if men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit, so that they would not have to be condemned, or judged with the world, at the Resurrection of Damnation. Thus Universalism represents a dangerous heresy which pulls men and women away from the seriousness, and gravity of sin, coming judgment and God's right to judge. It undermines moral government, and seeks to overthrow personal responsibility by the denial of free-will. Also, it cuts cross-grain against the Great Commission which mandates that we preach a reconciliation to the world, offering men salvation from sin and forgiveness with God, which all that means nothing in terms of immediacy, and gravity if "all men are saved", or " all men will be saved", and it takes away the imperative spirit of the Great Commission and our responsibility to preach the Cross as God leads by the Spirit.