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"All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work." (II Tim 3:16) "The sum of Your word is truth" (Psalm 119:160)

Monday, September 7, 2009

The Universalist Argument, Part 2

In the second book of Kings there is a story that is told of how God's people began to follow their own path, and put aside the commandments of the Lord. In time the Law that God had delivered to His people was lost and forgotten. In the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, the book of the Law was found by Hilkiah, the high priest. The book was brought before the king and read in his presence.

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.


Greywolfe said...

Great post, once again. You have a knack for giving false teachers a sore nose.

I'm glad I started looking at this page. It's a 'pick me up' after dealing with the false images people put up all day. I've been drained dealing with issues at Patdollard.com and frankly, your site has become a haven.

Thanks. Keep writing.

da patriot said...

Thanks you so much for the encouragement, Greywolfe. Now that i have taken on one of the biggest misconceptions out there, I am sure that I will get some negative feedback shorty. If I do not, then I am probably not being poignant enough.

Anders said...

Hello !
You wrote : “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,”

You wrote about atonement and I want to comment on that.

(le-havdil) The same that is outlined in Tan’’kh (the Jewish Bible) about kipur – atonement – was taught by first century Ribi Yehoshua (the Messiah) from Nazareth. Read this essential teachings here: www.netzarim.co.il

Anders Branderud

da patriot said...

Anders, while I appreciate your input, I have accepted the Bible, both the Old and the New Testaments, as the inspired word of God and my only guide in all matters of faith and religion. I am therefore, ill disposed to accepted the notion that the New Testament is some how spurious or specious. The purpose of this site is to focus attention on the things that divide us as Christians and to urge unity on the simple and plain teachings of the word that He has delivered to us through those whom He inspired. This would include those who wrote the New Testment.

Project Savior said...

Have you ever talked to a Universalist? like ever.
What you are saying about the UU church is so off, I'm just wondering where you are getting it from.

da patriot said...

I am not addressing the doctrines of the Unitarian Universalist Church, nor would I want to address them, since they are self refuting. I am addressing the ideology (universalism) which claims that all believers are members of the universal church regardless of the beliefs or teachings of those with whom they fellowship.

Z said...

I got you, DA...I'm so impressed by your thinking here and am so glad I came by tonight. Thank you.
It's either the Word of God or it isn't.....
So many splinter 'churches' are pulling Christianity DOWN instead of UP, just at a time our country needs our faith the most.
All we can do is pray and know God's in control, right? xx