Scripture—Used in favor of Universalism
2 Thessalonians 2:3,4—This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Universalism is the belief that God is the universal Father and that all souls will gain salvation. Similarly the doctrine of apokatastasis teaches that Satan and all sinners will ultimately be restored to God.
The first undisputed documented appearance of Christian Universalist ideas was in 17th-century England and 18th-century Europe and colonial America. Gerrard Winstanley (England, 1648), Richard Coppin (England, 1652), Jane Leade (England, 1697), and George de Benneville (France and America, 18th century) taught that God would grant all human beings salvation. People teaching this doctrine in America became known as Universalist Church of America.
Universalists use the following passages in defense of their claims: Romans 5:18,19, 11:32; 1 Corinthians 15:22; 2 Co. 5:15; 1 Timothy 2:3-6, 4:10; Titus 2:11; Hebrews 2:9; 2 Peter 3:9 and 1 John 2:2, 4:14.
Scripture—Used Against Universalism
1 John 5:12,13—The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life. I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.
Universalism is a dangerous, attractive doctrine for many reasons. It twists Scripture into hopelessly contradicting itself. There is no compelling reason for a person to have faith in Christ or follow Him as Lord if everything resolves to salvation in the end. Jesus stated in John 6:40, “For this is the will of My Father: that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Clearly belief in Him is a prerequisite to gaining salvation. Later Jesus claimed in 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” Why would Jesus make an absolute, exclusionary statement, if any belief was acceptable in God’s sight? Furthermore, why command His followers to go into all the world and make disciples (Mat. 28:19) if it does not matter whom one follows?
Universalism translates God’s intentthat no one should be lost, or that all should be saved, into eventual actuality. This is a misapplication of intent. Second Peter 3:7 states, “But by the same word, the present heavens and earth are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.” If God’s intent demands salvation, than Peter is lying about God one day destroying those who are ungodly. We also might as well cut out Hebrews 10:31 from our Bibles because there is no reason to fear God if there is no judgment for rejecting His Son.
When the New Testament writers discuss life they often refer to life after deathin the context of living where God resides. John makes it clear that “The one who has the Son has life. The one who doesn’t have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12) Verse thirteen makes it clear that John is referring to eternal life. Those who do not have the Son will not live with God forever.
Finally, the key word “unless” directly contradicts the concept of universalism. “ . . . unless you are converted and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mat. 18:3). “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as well!” (Luke 13:3). “Jesus replied, “I assure you: Unless someone is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . Unless someone is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:3,5). Unless is the unraveling of a heaven-is-home-to-everybody dogma. It belies a condition in direct opposition to a free pass for all.
Why is it important to know that not everyone will be saved? It should give us a sense of urgency to share the gospel so that those we know and come in contact with have the opportunity to know that their only hope is in Jesus. It should refire our sense of priorities. Jesus graciously called us to Himself in part so that we would be ambassadors for His kingdom. It should also give us a deep sense of humility and gratitude—were it not for God calling us to Himself, we would be eternally separated from Him. For other helpful passages, see John 8:24 and 10:27-30; Acts 17:30 and Romans 10:13.
If God bestows salvation irrespective of personal responsibility; if it is impossible for a saved person to commit sin that will eternally separate him from God, if we are saved through imputed righteousness alone, if, in short, the deadliness is taken out of sin the moment we are saved, then why are there so many passages in the Scriptures which arbitrarily and unmistakably make our personal obedience to God and renunciation of sin a condition of salvation? —Richard S. Taylor in A Right Conception of Sin
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Ecclesiastes 12:10-The Teacher sought to find delightful sayings and to accurately write words of truth. (Holman CSB)
Wyatt, Neal; Dwyer, Tierney V; Dwyer, Tierney V (2008). "Unitarian Universalism: A Research Guide". Reference & User Services Quarterly