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Issues – Universalism

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Universalism

John writes in John 1v1-5, talking about Jesus “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”

Jesus talking about Himself John 14v2, 6: “Trust in God; trust also in me. I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 17v1-2 “O God, Father, the time has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.

Most modern societies, particularly in the West, are pluralistic with many cultures evident within any city and country. With the advent of pluralism, comes the widely held belief that all religions, creeds, beliefs and non-beliefs are equal, which all ultimately lead to God and that after death, every person will enter heaven and have everlasting life with God.  That is universalism, and sadly, some Christian churches hold this belief.  However, that is contradictory to what Jesus said in the bible passages I read earlier.  That is not to say that each religion does not have an element of truth within it.  But only one religion is ultimate and absolute truth and that is Christianity. As Christians in the twenty first century we are often informed that Christianity is wrong, and that Jesus Christ can’t possibly be the only way to God, even if a God or Gods exist.

Just a scant look at each religion throws up the incompatibility between them. For instance the great monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam all profess that there is only one God.  Contrast this against the religion of Hinduism, which has millions of God, or Buddhism where there may well be no God at all! So Universalism could really be just a form of functional religious atheism.

If we were all going to be with God anyway, why would God bother having a plan of salvation as revealed in the Bible? If Universalism is true, why bother with morals or ethics now during this life as each religion has differing codes of morality and behaviour.  Now as soon as a Universalist says that morality is what defines the human (as some do), we can then say well which God, and therefore religion, decides what morality as different religions have different rules of morality!!  Taking it even further we could say why would God bother interacting with His creation at all, if humanity is going to be spending eternity with Him anyway! Why would there even be a thing called death at all, if universalism is true! So why is Universalism wrong? Lets have a look very briefly together, how superior Christianity is to Universalism.


Universalism Denies Salvation by Grace


Universalists inevitably proclaim that it is due to God’s nature of love and mercy that everyone will have everlasting life with God. Surely a merciful God will allow all to live with Him, regardless of the path they took in this early life!   However the Bible states that while God is a God of love and mercy, He is also a God of justice and the sins of people need to be dealt with.  That is where God’s grace comes in. How does God promise salvation to those reaching out for it? Through His unfailing love, kindness and tender mercy, which is enacted through Grace!  Salvation can be attained by no other means, but only through the combination of God’s mercy and grace – God’s twin actions working in unison.  Grace is easily defined as: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.  So what about Jesus Christ?


Universalism Denies Jesus’ uniqueness being human & divine

That Jesus was a man is not really disputed.  But why did Jesus need to fully human? Firstly, so Jesus death could appease God’s anger with us. Secondly so that Jesus can empathize and pray for us.  Thirdly, Jesus exhibited true and perfect humanity.  Fourthly, due to his perfect humanity, Jesus is to be our example to follow.  Fifthly, true human nature is good.  Lastly, while God is both above and beyond, He is not so far removed from us, that He cannot interact with his creation.

But he was more than human, He was also fully God – He was fully divine!  God’s salvation plan for humans involved triumphant victory over sin, death and the grave.  However no person could be found that was eligible or capable to do this.  Because of this, God stepped into human history, so that this victory could be achieved.  This God-man would be fully human, so as to live every feature of humanity, including suffering and death.  This God-man would also need to remain fully God, so as to defeat sin, death and the grave.  Jesus, being sinless, was this God-man, consisting as he did of two complete natures, the God nature and the human nature. That Jesus is both human and divine is what makes Christianity truly unique amongst the world’s religions.  It is why Jesus’ claims to be the only way to God are true and make sense.  It is why universalism is shown to be a fallacy. Universalism is wrong because it makes Jesus Christ out to be either a liar or a lunatic or worse – both.


Universalism Denies Jesus’ cross

As all paths under universalism lead to God, why would God have to send Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world?  Surely, if all paths lead ultimately to God, then there would be no need for Jesus to suffer the agony of the cross.  On the cross, Jesus died so that all sins – past, present and future sins – can be forgiven.  Salvation is to be found only through God’s grace and mercy exhibited by God the Son on the cross.  Moreover, it is only to those who acknowledge Him as Saviour in this earthly life that He will acknowledge before God the Father.

Universalism Denies Jesus’ resurrection

The resurrection of Jesus Christ provided the central theme for the sermons and teaching in the early church (Acts 1v22; Acts 4v33, Acts 17v18). But what significance is there in Jesus’ resurrection? The resurrection proved and vindicated all Jesus’ teaching and claims as the suffering Servant and attested to his being fully God and the last Judge of all mankind (Isaiah 53v10-12; Acts 2v36; Acts 3v13-15; Romans 1v4). The resurrection declared God’s approval of Jesus’ obedient service and the fulfilment of all the Old Testament promises, resulting in forgiveness of sins and salvation being only found in and through Jesus Christ, Jesus’ resurrection is a sign of the bodily resurrection for all believers in him, giving a new attitude to death and transforming hopes (1 Corinthians 15v12-58, Romans 8v10, 2 Corinthians 4v14; 1 Peter 1v3 & 21) As the resurrected King, Jesus now intercedes for us and has perfected the redemption of all those who choose to follow him (Romans 5v10; Hebrews 6v20, 1 Peter 1v21).


Universalism Denies Jesus’ authority

Jesus has authority (Matthew 28v18) over all things, all people, all circumstances and happenings. has authority over all spiritual beings, whether angels or demons. Jesus has authority over all nations, governments and rulers. Jesus has authority over all earthly and spiritual authorities. Jesus has the authority. Over all religions, leaders and people – Jesus has the authority and supremacy. This means regardless of what ever the Christian Disciple faces, Jesus is in control. Therefore, as Christian Disciples, we can obey him without fear of retribution from those who would seek to harm us. We have been given a free will, but as his Disciples, we should choose to exercise our free will to obey him and live a life worthy of him. As we grow to rely and depend on Jesus’ authority, we continually gain wisdom, guidance, and power.  Because of His authority, Jesus has authority and supremacy over all things – created, non-created, religious and non- religious.

Either Jesus was who he said he was – God – or he was a liar and a lunatic not to be trusted.  Universalism and Christianity are non-compatible – the Jesus of the Bible and therefore Christianity, is uniquely superior to all other religions and beliefs encompassed in Universalism.

For more to think about please do read John 14v1-6. Ask yourself the following questions, writing them down if you can, and see how you respond or react to them. Why not share your answers with your spouse or a close friend, so that you can pray over any issues together.

Q1.  How does my life of worship to Christ denounce Universalism?

Q2.  How does the call for me to be a witness for Jesus affect views of Universalism?

Q3.  How have I witnessed universalism in my community or country?

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