Why Hoping All Men Will Be Saved Is a Sign of Unbelief

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

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 promotion of Wilderness Wanderers, sometimes called "progressive Christians" or "ex-vangelicals." It's also become more popular because of misleading books and movies like The Shack.(2) 

As Christians, it should be our heart's desire to share Christ so men and women can 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). 

The Popular Heresy of Universal Salvation and Why We Should Not Hope For ItIf we can't trust what God says about hell, how can we trust what He says about heaven or anything else?(3) See What Jesus said about Hell.

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.

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Footnotes: 

(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. To better understand their belief that God wants all men to be saved and always gets what He wants, see 6 Scriptures Used to Promote Universal Salvation. To read about their belief that earthly death is our final punishment, see Hell is Not a Garbage Dump.

(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" and 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).  

Please do the short Bible study on this devotion on Bite Size Bible Study.
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It's an old heresy that just keeps raising it's ugly head. This 1-minute devotion explains why universal salvation is a sign of unbelief.



17 comments:

  1. Hi Gail, I always love coming over here and reading your posts because they are practical and informative.
    God bless
    Tracy

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  2. Gail I have been so blessed each day with Bible love notes it's a wonderful witnessing tool because it's quick and easy as attention spans may very among nonbelievers and most important packed with truth

    The Holy Spirit often moves me to pray for you I can imagine the oppression and persecution you may sometimes endure

    May the Lord continue to bless your ministry

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    1. Dear Lisa, thank you so much for your prayers. It means so much to me to have readers pray for me. Yes, this is not a popular subject and I've had negative feedback, but it's precious to hear from people like you. Thanks.

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  3. I am a Christain Universalist. I believe Jesus is the Savior of the world. He came to seek and save the lost. All will be drawn to Him. We will be saved from corruption for He overcame sin and death.

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    1. Hi Cathy,
      You will have to delete a great many Scripture passages and deny a great many words of Christ in order to keep your belief in universal salvation:

      These top passages are quotes from Jesus:
      John 3:18: Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.

      Matthew 5:29: If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.

      Matthew 7:13: "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

      Matthew 10:28: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

      Matthew 13:36-43: – the Parable of the Weeds also explains these truths.

      Matthew 16:26-27: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.

      Matthew 23:33-34: “You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell? 34 Therefore I am sending you prophets and sages and teachers. Some of them you will kill and crucify; others you will flog in your synagogues and pursue from town to town.

      In Matthew 25 Jesus tells three parables highlighting eternal rewards and punishments.

      Luke 12:4-5: “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. 5 But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.

      Luke 16:19-31: “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
      22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’
      25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’
      27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
      29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
      30 “‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
      31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

      The comment won’t allow too many words, so I’ll continue in the next comment block.

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    2. Some additional passages from the Epistles about Hell:

      2 Thessalonian 1:6-10: God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you7 and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. 8 He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9 They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might 10 on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.

      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.

      2 Peter 2:4-9: For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man,living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.

      Revelation 20:14-15: Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

      I'm going to trust God's Word to tell the truth about Salvation - all of it, not a few passages taken out of context. And my prayer is that you will do the same.

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    3. Gail, I recently read an article about Universal Christianity on Facebook that both angered and saddened me. I even wrote a blog about it ... and then I came across this blog and posted it on my Facebook page just now. Thank you for this discussion. This false religion needs to be brought to the light before more people are deceived. I wish you oceans of Easter blessings. (I was at the WW Blog Seminar last week).

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    4. Thanks so much for your encouragement, Sharon.
      God bless you.

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  4. Hi there. I won't go to in depth but some things need to be made clear. "Universal salvation" is not a trendy idea. It was taught by 4/6 early churches until 500AD. There is no "hell" in the Bible. Hell is translated from 3 words. Sheol=the grave. Where everyone goes. Gehenna= a garbage dump where criminals bodies were burned and Tartarus=where the demons were bound (I'm not 100% sure of this bits it's still not an eternal torture chamber) Universalism meaning all are going straight to heaven is a mockery. Universal reconciliation is the biblically accurate doctrine. Meaning, all will be judged, there will be punishment, and there will be reconciliation. 1 Timothy 4:10 "savior of all men, especially those who believe" 1 Corinthians 15:22 "so as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive" Adam=all died Christ=all will live. The "especially" is not exclusionary of the "all men". Matthew 25:46 "eternal torment" in Greek is "aionion kolasin" which can be translated "age-abiding correction" this is perfectly in line with "the reconciliation of all things" 1 Colossians 1:20 "Christ will reconcile all things to himself" so God can be "All in All". If hell is Gods wrath then explain Psalm 30:5 "his anger last only but a moment" ? Most bible versions are not only a translation but also an interpretation. It has so many contradictions it's not even funny. Any Greek literal translation is the closest you could get to the Greek manuscripts. Things get so much more consistent. And why is believing that God will eventually save all a sign of disbelief? We have great faith that God will bring his epic plan to a close, and none will be eternally tormented. Christ himself said "I did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world" did he accomplish his divine mission? Thankfully he did. I like to judge things by the fruit they bear. The fruit of eternal torment has permanently turned people away from God, made people have no peace at all, and has tormented believers over loved ones deaths. What kind of goods news is that? The fact that you said believing all will be saved is a sign of unbelief is disturbing. I have faith that God as he has said in his plainly worded scripture is true. One would have to twist and contort scripture to the point it looses all meaning to take away what is so plainly said. This isn't the book of revelation where you have to get creative to make sense of it. Most verses that are used as proof text of ETC (eternal conscious torment) are easily explainable by looking at the different ages (there are 5 I think) mis-translations, and context. This doctrine throws a monkey wrench in the works and clogs up everything. There is much more to be said but please research this for yourself. Universal reconciliation has the most scriptural backing and is perfectly inline with Gods justice/mercy/ and love. This is said in charity because causing one to doubt their salvation because they believe a perfectly scriptural doctrine does more harm than good. And if this is a "doctrine of demons" why isn't this the prevailing doctrine? If the case can be made by a brief look at passages then this should be leading the pack. Instead what is? No peace, constant fear of eternal torment if we fall, and hatred. In Christ-Mitch

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    1. You're right, unknown. There's nothing new about heresies. Paul addressed many of them during his lifetime and the heresy of Universal Salvation has been around a long time. It's adherents have had time to develop a creative explanation as you've put forth in this comment.

      However, there are huge errors in what you've written, but I'll address just one as I think that one is enough to refute your entire argument:

      If Scripture doesn't mention hell, according to you, then when Scripture says, "He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed" (2 Thess. 1:9-10) and when Christ says in Matthew 25:46 that the wicked “will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life" you actually believe people will be eternally punished in a garbage dump or in their earthly graves? No matter what you think about the location of hell, Scripture clearly teaches there will be eternal punishment for people who reject Christ. These two passages I mention are only two of many.

      I'm sorry, but no matter how hard you try to explain away the eternal punishment of hell, you have to deny the words of Scripture and the words of Christ to do so.

      In addition, you give non-believers false hope that they can live a life that rejects Christ and still go to heaven.

      This philosophy is neither kind nor Biblically accurate, and I grieve for those who are being deceived by it.

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    2. Gail,

      You didn’t provide a retort for the scriptures put up by “unknown”. How do you fit the scriptures provided into what you believe to be true?

      Also, do you ever use literal translations? You might find the words are out in a different order, which can make a bit of difference.

      Do you know the story of Jonah? Do you know, Will Sodom and Gomorrah be restored? Why, if it is our choice, and we are given everything we need, does Christ say:

      'And thou, Capernaum, which unto the heaven wast exalted, unto hades shalt be brought down, because if in Sodom had been done the mighty works that were done in thee, it had remained unto this day’ (Matthew 11:23)

      Jesus Christ said that if the information was given to the evil city, they would remain, in other words, had not been destroyed. This is interesting because if information was held back that would have other wise saved someone or some city, and God “who doth will all men to be saved, and to come to the full knowledge of the truth”, (1 Timothy 2:4) stopped it from happening, you have a real conundrum here....

      What about the hardening of Pharoahs heart?

      Notice that no matter what point someone is arguing, its always “clearly” or “plainly” in the scriptures?

      It seems that perhaps you have been overlooking some scriptures yourself, or at least not applying them to your understanding and teaching.

      You are correct in that there will be chastening. No one is arguing against these teachings. The duration is what is being debated.

      I await your response when you get a chance.

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    3. Hi Will
      You wrote: You didn’t provide a retort for the scriptures put up by “unknown”. How do you fit the scriptures provided into what you believe to be true?

      I offered the full counsel of Scripture which gives the full and balanced truth about hell. I didn’t need to refute what Unknown because the Scriptures she offered fit into the full counsel of Scripture.

      You wrote: Also, do you ever use literal translations? You might find the words are out in a different order, which can make a bit of difference.

      I study Scripture in multiple translations and also refer to the Greek or Hebrew when needed. I have a Masters from seminary, but all Christians can understand these plain truths no matter what translation they use.

      You wrote: Do you know the story of Jonah? Do you know, Will Sodom and Gomorrah be restored? Why, if it is our choice, and we are given everything we need, does Christ say: 'And thou, Capernaum, which unto the heaven wast exalted, unto hades shalt be brought down, because if in Sodom had been done the mighty works that were done in thee, it had remained unto this day’ (Matthew 11:23) Jesus Christ said that if the information was given to the evil city, they would remain, in other words, had not been destroyed. This is interesting because if information was held back that would have other wise saved someone or some city, and God “who doth will all men to be saved, and to come to the full knowledge of the truth”, (1 Timothy 2:4) stopped it from happening, you have a real conundrum here...What about the hardening of Pharoahs heart?

      None of this is relevant to our discussion about universal salvation. It sounds as if you debating Calvinism/Arminianism about whether God determines who will be saved or whether man has free choice? That has nothing to do with this discussion because both Calvinists and Arminians believe in hell.

      You wrote: Notice that no matter what point someone is arguing, its always “clearly” or “plainly” in the scriptures? It seems that perhaps you have been overlooking some scriptures yourself, or at least not applying them to your understanding and teaching.

      As I said before, I am sharing the full counsel or Scripture, not picking and choosing which to apply. Scripture does not contradict itself.

      You wrote: You are correct in that there will be chastening. No one is arguing against these teachings. The duration is what is being debated.

      I’m not completely sure I understand this statement, but it sounds like you are saying that there is a hell and “no one is arguing” with that concept only with the duration of hell. Did you read the devotion and the comment stream, Will? Universal Salvation teaches that there is no hell and all are saved. Universal salvation doesn’t debate the duration of hell because they don’t believe in it. That’s another debate completely.

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    4. You are picking apart “topics” whereas they all fit into the whole picture. God shows His character through all scripture. As expected you cannot refute the versus given, but instead insist that the verses you are using are the whole picture of the singled out topic.

      The pharisees and scribes also had “degrees”, and the apostles... did not (for the most part at least).

      At least answer: Does God wish for all to be saved?

      Did Christ say that had Sodom seen the miracles, they would be to this day?

      Thank you for your time

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    5. Hi Will,

      Your comments have both been condescending. And you believe it’s appropriate to compare me to the Pharisees, implying that I have flaunted my seminary training.

      Why did I mention my seminary degree, Will? Because you condescendingly questioned my ability to study/understand Scripture implying that your study methods/understanding are superior to mine.

      And what did I add to my statement? I added that you didn’t need a seminary degree to understand the concept of Hell.

      You are using a form of debate called Ad hominem which means you attack those who disagree with you instead of sticking to the subject.

      I will answer your questions in case others are interested in the answer, but I won’t publish any more of your comments because they are not in keeping with appropriate Christian debate.

      Your first Question:
      There are two passages that talk of God's desire that everyone be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4 and 2 Peter 3:9), but we cannot equate God's desires with God's final purposes. God hates sin. Everyone who sins does so against God's desires (e.g., Psalm 78:40). This is the message throughout Scripture. Sometimes even Christians quench and grieve God's Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19; Ephesians 4:30).

      God's desires are very often not fulfilled, but His purposes will prevail; and He has purposed to reward the repentant with eternal life and punish the wicked in hell.

      In response to your second question, I assume you are speaking about Matthew 11:21-24 where it says:

      “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. 22 But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. 23 And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted to the heavens? No, you will go down to Hades. For if the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. 24 But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.”

      I’m not sure how you could use this Scripture to claim there is no hell. It says that the city of Sodom would not have been completely destroyed if they’d seen the miracles of Christ. In the Old Testament, God sometimes destroyed cities because they became so hopelessly evil. We know it is speaking of a city not the people in the city because to survive to the time of Christ would mean the people of Sodom would be 1000s of years old. And this passage says nothing about salvation. It speaks about punishment, explaining that their punishment will not be as severe for Sodom as those who have seen Christ’s miracles. Different levels of punishment in hell and different levels of reward in heaven are addressed several places in Scripture.

      And if we have any doubts about what this passage is saying, we combine it with the whole counsel of Scripture and we find this very, very pertinent passage in Jude 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.”

      What kind of punishment? Eternal fire.

      Since you have previously questioned my ability to understand the “literal” meaning of Scripture, this is what the Greek says in Jude 7 when translated word for word: “Sodom and Gomorrah and the around them cities, in like manner with them having indulged in sexual immorality and having gone after flesh strange, are set forth as an example of fire eternal penalty undergoing.”
      And the word for eternal is αἰωνίου which means eternal. It is used 15 times in the Bible and always translated as eternal or everlasting.

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  5. Thank you for your thorough work in mining out and sharing the Scripture, Gail!

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  6. Indeed, it is very heartbreaking on how the devil is gradually planting this evil seed of universal salvation in the hearts of many Christians.

    I hope those of us propagating such wrong heretical teaching would desist from leading others astray. Hell remains an eternal fate for all those who out of their own choices scorn and reject His message of salvation.
    If you don't work out your salvation with fear and trembling, be sure you will be eternally lost.

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  7. Gail, thank you for speaking truth here. I have a family member who believes all will be saved, regardless of whether they chose to follow Jesus in this life. God gives us free choice. Why would he ‘drag’ someone to heaven to be with Him for all eternity after the person chose to reject Him here? We choose heaven or hell now!

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