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Posts Tagged ‘universalism’

By Mike Edwards

I am convinced there are beliefs claimed about God that lead to many tuning out God. Our relationship with God cannot exceed our understanding of God. I have written HERE how we can decide what God is really like. One’s understanding of a Book may be the only reason to think human and godly perfection are different.  Why would a Creator not love us and others how we were seemingly created to love others?

A Universalist believes God welcomes all to spend eternity in Heaven after death here on earth. Some may make a choice here on earth to have a relationship with their Creator and continue on after death. Some may not believe in God here on earth but misconceptions about God will be cleared up when meeting God. Some believe in Purgatory where some exist until convinced of God’s true love for them. The truth is only God knows what happens after death. Be open-minded!

Hell, as a place for unbelievers, doesn’t really exist according to the Bible.

One main reason many don’t believe in universalism is because Hell supposedly exist. A Book may be the only place one would think such a place exist. Jesus used the Greek word Gehenna that was translated into the word Hell in some of our Bibles. Gehenna was the name of a real valley near Jerusalem that was filled with garbage and even dead bodies. Fires were set to get rid of the garbage and smell. We don’t normally translate names of valleys with a different name. Gehenna should be translated as Gehenna. Jesus used the word Gehenna symbolically to illustrate what kinds of lives here on earth lead to hellish living, not what happens to people in the afterlife. Hell’s non-existence allows hope for heaven for all.

The Bible suggests that believers and unbelievers will face some kind of judgment after death. Fire in the Bible is used more metaphorically than a literal fire where people are tortured forever after death. The Book of Revelation is the only place Lake of Fire is mentioned, but if dragons with seven heads are considered figuratively why wouldn’t the Lake of Fire be a metaphor? Why would a loving God torture anyone forever since such pain serves no lasting purpose? Hitler was condemned for torturing millions of Jews for a brief time; God is said to torture billions not briefly but forever. A moral God can’t be a hellish, sadistic, torturer!

Eternal life in the Bible isn’t about one’s destiny after death.

Jesus didn’t think of eternal life as something after death but a quality of life that begins here on earth to avoid future regrets. Jesus was asked by a religious expert how to have eternal life. Jesus simply said to love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37). No one is going to Heaven if such actions are required according to God’s standards. If entering Heaven depends on certain beliefs or saying the sinner’s prayer, wouldn’t Jesus have responded differently? Jesus talked about how true living begins on earth by knowing how much your Creator loves you. Such knowledge can empower one to be the unselfish person we desire to be deep down.

Can there be justice if all go to heaven?

Punishment doesn’t bring back a victim’s robbed memories of the future due to the murder of a loved one. Real justice is being forced to understand your victim’s pain and accept the harmfulness of your actions. After death God may bring to memory every action of betrayal and how it felt to their victims. The cleansing and educative effect may take longer for some than others. Humans like God may forgive their enemies if they truly regret their actions and seek forgiveness. Justice from a fair, merciful God is possible despite people being given a second chance after death.

A loving God would never determine one’s destiny on chance encounters.

Did the thief on the cross get lucky while others were out of luck because they didn’t sin enough to get a Cross next to Jesus. Believing our destiny depends on a set of beliefs has led to some wacky baptizing practices or hoping your skeptical child hasn’t reached that age of accountability before being thrown into Hell. Do you really think God is going to judge all based on their beliefs during a short time here on earth influenced by so many random factors?

  • Why would God pretend that every reason for a person refusing God in this life is equal? Does God really forgive a serial killer who may have warning of their last breath but not others, who commit far less heinous actions in this life, but were killed suddenly in a car accident? Some rightly despise their Heavenly Parent because of the abuse suffered by their earthly parent. Some have numerous opportunities to respond to God while others have very few times. Is God’s grace dependent on circumstances or God?
  • Our beliefs are often determined by where we were born or the family we were born into. Our destiny cannot be based on certain beliefs about Jesus in the Bible when the majority of people born into this world died without any knowledge of the Bible or who Jesus was. Those with a Bible may have misunderstood God either because of poor role-models or what others taught about God. God is not going to let one final destiny be controlled by others. Meeting God will clear up any confusion and remove any causes that led to erroneous thinking.

A loving God can’t all of a sudden stop being forgiving at the moment of one’s last breath.  

Thinking an eternal God can stop being forgiving is doubtful, even according to the Bible. We are told to forgive our enemies as many times as necessary but God doesn’t do the same? God can’t stop being God somehow after our last breath by refusing to forgive any offense. I cannot imagine even imperfect human parents ever cutting off a child when finally accepting responsibilities for their actions. There isn’t a deadline or time limit on God’s love.

Even the Bible possibly suggests all go to Heaven eventually.  

Why wouldn’t one want to believe God is a Universalist where all are allowed to have eternal life if freedom and justice can be defended in such a scenario? Several biblical passages can be plausibly interpreted to suggest all enter heaven one day: “For as in Adam all died, so in Christ all will be made alive” (I Cor. 15:22, i.e. Rom. 5:18-19, Philip: 2:10-11).  God is obviously full of second changes. Heaven may be more populated than many people imagined. I doubt any reading this or their loved ones would deny such an invitation by God. If the Bible can possible be interpreted this way why can’t the possibility be entertained.

The one main reason Universalism may not be true.

Some people, even if they were given infinite chances in eternity, may still reject God forever. Sometimes our choices made for a long period of time define who we are. Others may argue no one in their rational mind would not want to live with a God truly loving. But, how can universalism be true unless God’s love in the end is coercing or controlling?

The truth is we cannot know for sure what happens after death when we meet our Creator in person. Bible scholars have used certain verses to lean on either side of the fence about whether God gives second chances or not. I suggest therefore we take a stance based on an understanding of a loving God. All have some inclination what a good God would do when it comes to second chances after death just as we think how a loving parent should respond to a child in such circumstances.

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Recently I have been reading articles where people believe hell, as eternal torment, was not mentioned in the bible. Some believe that all people will be saved through God’s love and no person will be left apart from our Father even though they do not choose him or believe he exists.

Love is the main theme of God. God is love. I am not sure I am ready to say that hell does not exist or that God saves everyone apart from their choice but I do know that no matter what, God loves us all.

LovelikeJesus1

True love is how Christians should be known. God loves everyone and has made a way for everyone to receive the gift of salvation. Yet I personally do not believe God will force this gift on anyone and those who choose not to take it may one day have to accept the consequences whether it be eternal torment, temporary punishment or a complete act of forgiveness.

Now, is hell a real place of eternal torment or was it a dumping ground near Jerusalem that has nothing to do with punishment? There is a very real debate over this issue and I certainly do not have the answer. The thing is, trying to get people saved with the threat of spending eternity in hell is not the way to do it. People are truly changed by God’s love and by God’s people living out that love to everyone they meet.

God does not want anyone to spend eternity in a place of torment. He has provided the way of escape if there is a hell. But we want to focus on the fact the God loves us all and we want to accept and enjoy his love, not just escape the thought of eternal punishment.

When we love someone, we want to do things that please that person and make them happy. Same with God, we want to be pleasing to Him and do things for Him. We do not do these things out of obligation or because of rules and regulations. That is law. We do them out of love and that is the way we should help lead others to Christ, through love.

As it mentions in Colossians 3:12-14 as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone, just as the Lord forgave you so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Rather than being so quick to judge and condemn people for what they do, who they are, and what they believe we need to stop and re-read what God has said on the matter.

We are not called to be God, we are to be people who allow God to live in and through us. We are in Christ. Our lives should be in the process of being transformed into the life of Christ. Basically, we are to be Christ’s body on earth today. We are The Church, not a building we go to once a week but His body living in love day by day.

Remember, the Holy Spirit convicts of sin. God is the judge, we are called to love others.

LoveOthers

Romans 13:8-10 spells it out pretty clear, owe nothing to anyone except to love one another, for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

To love others is to fulfill the law, wow, seems so simple yet so hard to do.

The Old Testament law was given as a guide to show people that they could not measure up to pleasing God. If anyone could keep all of the law then they were perfect. Unfortunately, we humans cannot live a perfect life. The law showed us that we could not do it.

When Christ came in bodily form and lived on earth he lived a perfect life. He became the perfect sacrifice that would once and for all make a way for us to be considered perfect in God’s eyes and to be restored to fellowship with him.

When we live in love we are fulfilling the law. We no longer do things out of obligation or out of a need to earn God’s love and favor. We no longer have to keep the ten commandments to earn our salvation. Salvation is now a gift given to us. When we love others with the love of God our lifestyle will be one that actually fulfills the law by the way we live and love.

Am I saying that we should not try to live by the 10 commandments? In a way yes. We cannot do so. When we live in love we will be living a life that is pleasing to God without trying to live by laws and regulations. If we are depending on the law, regulations or doing things to earn God’s love we are wasting our time. Only by living in love for Christ and our fellow human beings will any difference be made.

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