Universal Resurrection—Not Universal Salvation
Henry wrote in my guestbook,
Thank you for the stuff about univeralism, I have been wrestling with that idea for some time. Now, having read what you wrote about it well I have decided that it must be true. You have not really done your homework and you leave much out of why Universalist believe as they do, which is common when you want to make another look bad to leave important facts and try to make the ones whom you opose as ignorant. I agree with a growing number of christians, that people like you who dwell in the brick idols of the apostate pagan church, have twisted the gospel for pay and are nothing less then the devils play things. Great job satan is very pleased with you.
Jesus took away the sin of the entire world (John 1:29, cf. 1 John 2:2). If so, then is reasonable to ask how and in what way did he take away the sin of the entire world? If we accept that the ultimate consequence of sin is separation from the Lord and death, then it is interesting that Paul rejoices the death of death through Christ’s atonement, writing, "Death is swallowed up in victory." In first Corinthians 15 Paul is writing to believers but the text seems to imply that everyone, non-believers included, will experience a bodily resurrection and with it, the defeat of the leviathan of death. John 5:28 tells us that all who are in the grave (a euphemism for all who are dead) will hear the voice of the Son of God and 1 Thes. 4:15 tells us that the dead in Christ rise first hinting that there is an order by class within the resurrection of the human race. Notably Paul affirmed that the wicked will be raised, as the prophet Daniel, that there will be “a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked” (Acts 24:15 cf. Dan. 12:2).
By one act, the risen Lord had defeated death for all. But what of separation? The defeat of death is not enough: in order for communication with the Lord to be restored, a relationship must be established. And communication with our Lord is not restored until the beloved of God receive the reconciling event already accomplished and become reconciled to God. “We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20). So important is this last that Christ’s last words to us were that we make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). With the Great Commission in view we have taken on Christ’s name and set forth to make that name famous proclaiming the kingdom of God, the New Jerusalem is here! As heralds and ambassadors for Christ we implore others to be reconciled to God by means of faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, who according to Scriptures died for our sins, was buried, rose again on the third day and was witnessed by Cephas, then of the twelve and then by the five hundred, and who now speaks to us all through the Holy Spirit.
Jesus atoned for the sins of all the world. Everybody’s sins—be they saved or not—and come the day of judgment everybody will be raised: “those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Come the day of judgment, both the wicked and the righteous will stand before the Lord to be judged (2 Cor. 5:10). But like Psalm 1:5 says, “the wicked will not stand in judgment,” is to understand that those who are wicked will appear but without Christ, without a personal relationship with the Lord, they will be unable to stand in the final judgment and shall be condemned.
All to say that in a sense Christ’s atonement did heal all in that death was defeated for all but the defeat of death is not enough: a right-relationship with the Lord must also be established to enter into the kingdom of heaven. Many folks have been led into universalism by misunderstanding that the resurrection of all doesn’t mean the salvation of all. This is further complicated because because the proof texts used to support a resurrection of all are interpreted by universalists as support for universalism and countering voices never bother to acknowledge a universal resurrection in their denial of universal salvation. Think it through and you’ll be alright.
Return to the Protestant Apologetics and Theology page