Sunday Devotional: Faith in Christ vs. Universal Salvation

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Universalism—or universal salvation—continues to be a widespread belief today. In short, the teaching upholds that salvation is granted to all humanity, whether or not they believe in Jesus.

While it remains true that the Lord died for the sins of His creation and exercised grace in His saving power, death, and resurrection, the Scriptures contradict the notion of universalism.

First, the Bible explains there is, in fact, judgment and hell for those outside of Christ (Matthew 7:21-23). Later in Matthew, Chapter 25, Jesus describes the eternal punishment of hell: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)”

William S. Plumer wrote on the idea: “The doctrine of universal salvation has no countenance in Scripture. It is disproven by many express declarations, and by many fair and necessary inferences. It is disproven by the case of Judas. If, after many thousands years of suffering, he shall rise to everlasting happiness in the skies, it will be good for him that he was born.”[1]

Plumer, of course, referenced Matthew 26:24, “The Son of man goeth as it is written of him: but woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! it had been good for that man if he had not been born.” This verse alone contradicts the very idea of universalism, as Jesus condemns Judas to everlasting punishment.

While nominal and cultural Christianity remains popular in the Western world, the idea of universalism is much larger than being only connected to Christianity. Firm adherents note that salvation is possible for those who deny Christ. Again, the Bible denies such rhetoric, from Jesus Himself declaring He is the only way to heaven. The reader should look no further than His famous “I am” statements (John 6:35, John 8:12, John 10:9, John 10:11, John 11:25, John 14:6, John 15:1, 5).

Admittedly, the Bible contains statements that require further examination. For example, the phrase, “Saviour of the world” found in John 4:42. Or later in John Chapter 6, v. 33, “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” Universalists take such verses out of context. Jesus is, in fact, the Saviour of the world for those who believe in Him. To support this argument, the Lord taught, “Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” (John 8:31) First, note that John mentioned some Jews, not all. More importantly, Jesus said they would be disciples if they continued in His word. The word “continued” implies faith and something new.

Christians should desire all to be saved, but to espouse universalism is dangerous and heretical. The Lord made it clear one must be born again to enter Heaven (John 3:3, 2 Cor. 5:17). Jesus challenged His disciples to walk with Him daily, not occasionally, and certainly not never as universalists would have you believe: “And he said to them all, ‘If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'” (Luke 9:23)

Later in Luke Chapter 14, Jesus reiterates His statements even more forcefully: “If any man comes to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26-27)”

We must combat universalism. This misleading doctrine has deceived many people into relying on themselves rather than placing their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation.

[1] William S. Plumer, Jehovah-Jireh: A Treatise On Providence, (Harrisonburg: Sprinkle Publications,1997), 105.

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