Universalism and Paul: Universal Condemnation

The universal condemnation of humanity.

I found something dealing with the theme of Universalism – actually the opposite – in 12 of the 16 chapters of Romans. Truly this jewel of the apostle Paul is key to a proper understanding of God’s eternal program.

Romans 1:5-6.8. As in Acts, so here, the word all draws our attention. Paul has been called to take the message to all nations, so that the people among them may be called to obedience. But immediately the contrast: “…among whom you also (people of Rome, Italy) are the called of Jesus Christ.”

Did all the people in Italy hear and obey the call? Not then, not now. It’s a simple fact, but it’s important to keep in mind that God calls his people from between all nations, but also that not all individuals in nations respond.

Paul uses another general verb sweep in verse 8: He speaks of the faith of the Romans. all over the world. TRUE. You could visit, on that day, any number of churches or synagogues, and listen to people talk about the Roman Church. It was a real powerhouse. But did all the creatures of God’s green earth know about the Christians in Italy? I do not think so.

All it’s not always all. Try to remember that…

Romans 1:16-18. God’s saving power is for everyone! Everyone, that is, who believes. Faith is the qualifier, the divider, of the people of the earth. For all those unbelievers who will be left without excuse because they suppress the truth about God, the gonna of God.

Novels 2 and 3. Paul’s lengthy discussion of man’s deserved damnation is very revealing, but it tells us things we may not want to hear. God’s judgment is coming against all wicked men. Outrage, anger, tribulation, anguish. Everything is on the way, make no mistake.

But what about those who have never heard? The Universalist really wants to upstage the Bible believer here with what he believes to be the obvious answer to this centuries-old riddle: “Why? all be saved. This is not a problem now.”

Believing that all men will eventually be saved from God’s judgment certainly takes the teeth out of the Great Commission and the entire missionary story of the church of Jesus. Something in us wants to believe it, but it doesn’t ring true when measured against other Biblical facts.

Without delving further into that very difficult problem, let me share Paul’s brief response, here in Romans 2:12:

The condemnation will come upon those who sinned because they had no law, and it will come likewise those who had the law and sinned against it. Sin is sin. God’s law is written on the hearts of even Gentiles. They know what is right and what is wrong. God will judge each thought, each motive, of each man through the Man Christ Jesus.

Who will be able to stand on that day?

Paul says, in essence, nobody. Justice cannot be obtained by human effort. Only those who cling to the righteousness of Christ will be saved.

If there is a universalism in God’s world, it is universal damnation. “…everyone can become guilty before God (3:19).” The planet is cursed with a curse. Jesus did not come into the world to condemn the world… He was already condemned!

Out of this worldwide doom will rise a band of holy men and women from every nation on earth. It is this summoned assembly, the church, that cancels this original universalism, so that now no general statement covers all men of all times.

Many lost. Some saved. God’s justice is not poured out on every man, but on every man who believes (3:22, 26, 28). Note the wording:

“…to all and above all who believes…”

“… justifying who has faith in Jesus…”

“…man is justified by faith…”

Teachers who promote universal acceptance need to show on what basis that acceptance comes. It is certainly not based on the work of Jesus.

Jesus gave His blood for our sins. Without the forgiveness of sins, how can man be justified? Is it not obvious even to a child that not all men repent, not all men believe? These who have not asked for God’s forgiveness are still in their sins and will be lost forever.

Salvation has always been a two-way deal. God’s grace and invitation is sent. But the men who despise them can never hope to be drawn into the Kingdom of God by default.

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