Bible Teaching

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The Hebrew word for "hell" is "sheol," and is variously translated as "hell", "grave", or "pit" in our English Bibles. Additionally, in places such as Psalm 5:5; 9:17; 16:10; etc., some Bible versions translate this as "hell" and others translate it as "grave." This should be a clear clue that much Christian preaching is misguided in implying that Satan's (supposed) fiery kingdom is in view. There is a "hell," but it is not the kingdom of Satan, nor is it eternal and unending, since the Hebrew "olam" and Greek "aion" (source of our word "eon" or "age") do not mean unending time. See: Universal Grace


Certainly, "we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ" (Rom. 14:10), but the purpose of judgment is to effect repentance (Isa. 26:9) and not to punish to no purpose. See: Restore All Creation!


God instituted no prisons or "penitentiarys"; the Bible promotes the principle of restitution. The guilty are to repay the damage they have caused, with death (not eternal punishment!) for capital crimes (Deut. 13:11; 19:20). Furthermore, there is no principle in God's law allowing for unending punishment; even the wicked dead are to be raised for judgment. See: Universal Grace


Universal Atonement and Universal Grace

Saving grace, freely given, by a merciful God! Ultimate universal reconciliation combines both the Calvinist view of grace and the Arminian view of Christ's atonement.

Titus 2:11

The Terminology of Grace
The Christian message is summarized in Acts 20:24 as, "the gospel of the grace of God." Yet Christian belief systems have widely divergent interpretations of this Biblical grace. The two leading systems of thought are Calvinism and Arminianism, which represent two opposite ends of the Protestant spectrum. Calvinistic theologians use terminology such as "Sovereign Grace," "Saving Grace" and "Saving Faith." However, Arminians often use the very same terms as well. This results in confusion, for although they may both use similar language, their intended meaning and interpretations are vastly different. To put this into proper perspective, the disagreement centers upon two issues: First, whether Christ's atonement is universal or limited. Second, whether God's grace is universal or limited.

These two systems often prefer to use other language instead, such as "Common Grace", "Particular Atonement", "Particular Redemption", "Definite Redemption", "Actual Atonement", "Intentional Atonement" and a number of other expressions. Not one of these terms is ever found in Scripture. Apparently, neither Calvinists nor Arminians like to be characterized as "limiting" grace or the atonement! Why such subterfuge, if what they teach is actually Biblically true? And why are they unable to find, or unwilling to use, Biblically-based language in their salvation teaching? Their inability to come to any agreement on the plethora of differing terms and phrases should be a strong clue that something is not entirely sound with their systems.

Are There Limits On Grace?
On the two primary issues of the atonement and grace, a set of diametrically opposite views is found in the Calvinist and Arminian persuasions. The Calvinist proclaims a universal grace constrained by a limited atonement, while the Arminian proclaims a universal atonement constrained by a limited grace. The famous theologian, Rev. C. H. Spurgeon, in a sermon on  February 28, 1858 argued the Calvinist side of the issue: "we are often told that we limit the atonement of Christ, because we say that Christ has not made a satisfaction for all men, or all men would be saved. Now, our reply to this is, that, on the other hand, our opponents limit it: we do not... when you say we limit Christ's death; we say, 'No, my dear sir, it is you that do it'." While Calvinists and Arminians accuse each other of limiting Salvation, the irony is that both are guilty of placing limits upon it, each by their own contrivance. The reason is obvious, as the Wikipedia Encyclopedia (article: limited atonement) expresses it, "Since Calvinists and nearly all Christians believe that not all have eternal life with God, Calvinists conclude that there are only two possibilities..." The two possibilities spoken of are to limit one or the other: either grace or the atonement. Neither is a good choice! The battle between these two belief systems never ends, because neither of the supposed "only two possibilities" of Calvinism and Arminianism entirely squares with the Scriptural view of salvation. Of course, the key to their error is that they start with a flawed assumption which ignores a third and better option: ultimate universal salvation.

The Real Problem With "Grace"
The real problem is therefore not with God's grace but with church teaching concerning it. A leading Calvinist theologian gave an excellent illustration comparing the two competing church systems: "For the Calvinist it is like a narrow bridge which goes all the way across the stream; for the Arminian it is like a great wide bridge which goes only half-way across." ("Limited Atonement" by Loraine Boettner) This is the choice they give us. Which do you prefer—a bridge too narrow to cross, or a spacious one that only extends halfway across the river? Neither is an ideal choice, but fortunately, neither are these our only options. Indeed, we believe that Biblical saving grace involves both a universal atonement and a universal grace.

A Common Agreement on Grace and Atonement
You may be surprised to realize that a belief in Biblical Universalism actually has much in common with both Calvinistic and Arminian theology, in spite of their flaws. The Calvinists are very vocal in stressing a plethora of Scripture verses which prove the doctrine of universal grace. The Arminians are just as insistent in proving the Scriptural basis of universal atonement (sometimes referred to as "hypothetical universalism"). With the Calvinists we agree that God's grace is universal, and with the Arminians we agree that Christ's atonement is universal. As we will see, Calvinists and Arminians have solid Scriptural evidence to support each of these two theorems, and we wholeheartedly agree with their interpretation in these areas. Ultimate universal reconciliation combines both the Calvinist universal grace and the Arminian universal atonement. Let us look at a representative selection of Scriptural evidence for each:

Universal Grace Scripture Passages

  • "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:32)
  • "To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation." (2 Cor. 5:19)
  • "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time." (1 Tim. 2:3-6)
  • "For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe." (1 Tim. 4:10)
  • "For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men," (Titus 2:11)
  • "And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." (1 John 2:2)
  • "And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world." (1 John 4:14)

Universal Atonement Scripture Passages

  • "But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all." (Isa. 53:5-6)
  • "Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world." (John 1:29b)
  • "For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." (John 3:17)
  • "For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again." (John 5:14-15)
  • "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Matt. 11:28)
  • "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned... But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many... Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life." (Rom. 5:12-18)
  • "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man." (Heb. 2:9)

Grace Reigns!
Grace is the unsought, unbought saving activity of God! The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia (ii:802) states that, "Grace is almost a synonym for salvation." Given the selection of Scripture verses above, it should seem strange that anyone would speak of a "limited atonement" or a "limited grace," yet the same source essentially says just that: "The RSV translates Titus 2:11, 'For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men'; this could too easily lead to a universalist conclusion if isolated from the whole drift of the New Testament." We beg to differ, based upon a wealth of representative Scripture passages. The "whole drift" of the New Testament does in fact "lead to a universalist conclusion!" Give this subject your prayerful, independent thought and study. We will leave you with the very last words of the Bible: "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with the saints. Amen!." (Rev. 22:21)

Learn The Things Of God With Us!

This study is necessarily an all-too-brief overview of several important interrelated subjects. These and other Christian Universalism topics are discussed in much more depth in our fellowship Grace Bible studies. We invite you to come and learn the things of God with us!

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