When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes. He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Acbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king's attendant: "Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord's anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us." - 2 Kings 22:11-13.
Now, imagine that some in our current culture would have their way, and the Bible fall out of use and be forgotten. Many years pass and the Lord's church disappears from all knowledge or memory. Then Providence intervenes and a copy of the New Testament is found, read, believed, and obeyed; and the Lord adds those fortunate finders to His church ( Acts 2:37-47). These new Christians would no doubt look to the New Testament for guidance in determining the doctrines, practices, and worship of the newly restored church of Jesus Christ. What is the likelihood that the result would be a grotesque monstrosity comprised of thousands of sects, all bearing different names, teaching different doctrines, engaging in different religious practices, and worshiping in different ways, but all claiming to follow the same guide? Yet, that is the current state of the Lord's church according to the Universalists.
The absurd rationalizations of the Universalists serve no good purpose and lend legitimacy to a condition in Chistendom which is clearly condemned in the scriptures (1Cor. 1:10). When factions do exist, they exist "in order that those who are approved may ...become evident" (1 Cor. 11:19), and conversely, expose those who are not. To determine which is which, one must turn to the scriptures, our only guide in all matters of faith and religion (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:16).
There is a slogan used by many today; "God said it, I believe it, and that settles it". This is a positive statement about faith, and there is great truth in it. That truth is equally great when we examine the negative; "God did not say it, therefore, I do not believe it, and that settles it." In the practice of the Christian religion one cannot by faith do anything which is not approved by God through his revealed word (Rom. 10:17). Faith began with the revelation of His word to the world through inspired men, and faith must end where that revelation ends. If someone were to say, "As a Christian, I cannot eat meat during certain phases of the moon", this would be a practice that is not from faith since there is no justification for it in the word of God. And since it is not from faith, the incorporation of it in the practice of the Christian religion would in fact be a sin (Heb. 11:6; Rom. 14:23). The scriptures exhort us to not only test ourselves (2 Cor.13:5), but to test the teachings of others as well (1 John 4:1, 2:3-4; 2 John 9-11; Matt. 7:15).
Nevertheless, the Universalist maintain that regardless of how far a denominations teachings and practices may be from the scriptures, the members thereof are saved by virtue of their faith in Christ alone, and, as such, are members of the universal church. This is a logical argument. If a person is saved at the point of faith alone, before and without any other acts of obedience, and since the saved person is added to the Lord's church by God (Acts2:47), said person is a member of the church by virtue of their saved condition. This argument hinges on the truth of the proposition that 'a person is saved at the point of faith, before and without any other acts of obedience.
The proponents of this doctrine typically cite Rom. 3:28-30; "For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law." Now, if a man is justified by faith alone, he is justified by it to the exclusion of all else. Yet, the scriptures teach that we are also justified by a number of other things. Rom. 3:24 says that we are justified by grace. Acts 13:39 says that we are justified by Christ. Rom. 5:9 says we are justified by His blood. James 2:24 says we are justified by works. 1 Cor. 6:11 says that we are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And yet again, we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1). Now, how can we be justified by all these things, and be justified by any one of them alone? Nowhere in the scriptures does it say that we are justified by faith alone, in fact, the word 'alone' is used only once in the New Testament to modify faith, and in that passage, the writer says that we are not justified by it (James 2:24).
Repentance is an indispensable condition of salvation (Luke 13:3,5; Acts 3:19). If persons are saved at the point of faith, before and without any other acts of obedience, they are saved before they obey the command of the Lord to repent. But an objector says, "It is true that one must repent in order to be saved, but repentance precedes faith". Now, how could this be? What would motivate a person to obey the Lord's commandment to repent before they believe in the Lord? And, even if they did, the motivation would not be faith, and without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), therefore, that repentance would not be pleasing to God. Once more, if a person were to repent before hears and believes the word that he must (Rom. 10:17), and since whatever we do in religion which is not of faith is sin (Rom. 14:23), such repentance would be sin. The absurdity of this notion is self evident. No one can perform an act as part of a religion which they have not yet embraced.
And what of the confession spoken of by Paul in Rom. 10:9? Paul says in that passage that, "with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation". Here we have yet another act of faith in the gospel plan of salvation which may not be dispensed with, and with it we could make the same argument. We could make many more arguments to prove that the doctrine of the Universalists is false, but what we have so far is more than sufficient. The doctrine of the Universalists has no basis in the word of God, and if not from God, it is not of faith, and if not of faith, it is sinful to teach or adhere to it.