WILL EVERYONE BE SAVED?
A. Introduction: We are talking about who Jesus is and why He came into this world, so that we can know Him
more fully and represent Him more accurately to the people around us. We also want to be protected from
the increasing deception that is coming on this world (as Jesus predicted it would, Matt 24:4-5).
1. It is becoming more and more common to hear people say that there are many paths to God. But that is
contrary to what Jesus said: I am the way, the truth, and the light. No one comes to God the Father but
through Me. John 14:6
a. Jesus is the only way to God because He is the only remedy for what makes relationship between
God and humanity impossible—the fact that we are guilty of sin before God, who is holy. Rom 3:23
1. Jesus is God become man without ceasing to be God. Two thousand years ago He took on a
human nature and was born into this world, so that He could die as a sacrifice for sin and satisfy
Divine justice on our behalf. John1:1; John 1:14; Heb 2:14-15; I John 4:9-10; II Cor 5:21
2. When a person acknowledges Jesus as Savior and Lord, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, God
can declare that person justified or righteous—no longer guilty of sin and restored to right
relationship with their Creator, Almighty God. Rom 5:1; Col 1:19-20
b. Jesus is the once and for all sacrifice who takes away sin. But to receive the effects of His sacrifice,
a person must believe in Him. There is no other way to be delivered from the guilt of sin than
through Jesus, because His sacrifice is the only remedy for our condition. He is the only way that
sinful people can be reconciled to a holy God. John 3:16-18; I Tim 2:5-6; John 8:24
2. Last week we began to deal with an objection that people raise against the idea that Jesus is the only way
to God—What about people who live in lands where Jesus is unknown or who lived before He was born?
a. John 1:9—We pointed out that Jesus is the light who lights every person that comes into this world.
Everyone receives enough light to respond to God in a saving way, through the witness of creation
and the witness of conscience (Rom 1:20; Rom 2:14-15).
b. We also looked at examples (pre-Cross) where God made Himself known to men, they responded,
and were declared righteous—Abel, Job, Abraham. Heb 11:4; Ezek 14:14; Gen 15:6
c. The Lord was able to declare them righteous on the basis of the sacrifice of Jesus that was still to
come, because they responded to the light of Jesus that was given to their generation. Rom 3:25
3. This week we’re going to address Christian universalism, an increasing popular teaching among some
professing Christians. They believe that all people will ultimately end up in Heaven, and no one will
suffer eternal consequences for their sins. They believe that the Bible supports this viewpoint.
a. There are variations of these ideas, but the common theme is: Jesus died for the sins of every
human being, therefore everyone will be saved through Jesus. No one will be forever separated
from God in Hell. Those who don’t find their way to God in this life will find it after they die. b.
Universalists argue that God is all loving and wants to save everyone, and because God is all
powerful, He can find a way to make it happen.
1. Universalists say that those who don’t believe will meet Jesus after they die and get a second
chance. They may suffer some temporary punishment, but they’ll be reformed and restored.
2. Universalists argue that because of the redemptive work of Christ, all will be saved and all will
ultimately end up in Heaven. Individuals must respond to God’s grace, but they’ll be given an
indefinite period of time to repent and be saved. Here’s a sampling of verses that are cited:
A. God so loved the world (John 3:16). He desires everyone to be saved (I Tim 2:4). The
Lord does not want anyone to perish and wants all to come to repentance (II Pet 3:9).
B. Jesus is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus is the Savior of
the world (John 4:42). He will draw all men to Himself (John12:32).
C. Through Jesus God reconciled all things to Himself (Col 1:19-20). Every knee will bow
and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil 2:10-11).
c. The arguments for Christian universalism come from emotion and flawed human reasoning, the idea
that a loving, all powerful God would never let anyone suffer eternal punishment. These ideas are
not in the Bible. The scriptural proof that is offered comes from verses taken out of context.
1. You and I need to know how to answer these kinds of challenges to true Christian teaching
(orthodox doctrine) so that we don’t end up deceived.
2. We need to make it our standard and place it over and above what we feel and what we reason
based on how we feel. And, we must learn how to read the Bible effectively.
4. We can’t go through every reasoning or verse that a universalist might bring up, but I can give you some
tools that will help you recognize false ideas and verses that are taken out of context.
a. Your greatest defense against deception is regular, systematic reading of the New Testament. To
read systematically means to read each document as it was written to be read—from start to finish.
1. To read regularly means to read daily if possible. You’re reading to get familiar with the
content. Understanding comes with familiarity, which comes with regular, repeated reading.
2. As you get familiar with the text, you can begin to see the context of individual statements.
In the verses above, the immediate context makes it clear that universalism is not being taught.
A. John 3:16 does say that God loved the world (mankind), but is does not say that the world
(mankind) won’t perish. It says whosoever believes in Jesus will not perish.
B. II Pet 3:9 says that God desires that no one perish. But that statement comes right after a
warning that a fiery day of judgment is ahead for the ungodly (v7).
C. Col 1:19-20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through Jesus. If we keep
reading, we see that they will be presented to the Lord if they continue in the faith (v21-23).
b. If you become familiar with the New Testament, you’ll get to the point where you can recognize
when an interpretation of verse is contrary to other things written in the Bible. For example:
1. Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Jesus is Lord (Phil 2:10-11) is cited as proof
that all will ultimately surrender to Jesus. But bending the knee doesn’t necessarily mean
voluntary submission. Unclean spirits saw Jesus and fell down before him confessing: You
are the Son of God (Mark 3:11). They were vanquished foes, not faithful believers.
2. Paul wrote this passage about knees bowing and tongues confessing. He was referencing
Isa 45:23-24 where some who bend their knee are enemies who will be put to shame.
B. A major key to understanding any Bible verse is recognizing that everything in the Bible was written by
someone to someone to communicate information. These three factors must be considered to properly
interpret any verse. Verses cannot mean something to us that they would not have meant to the first readers.
1. Jesus was born into first century Judaism in Israel. Their world view was shaped by the Old Testament,
Based on the writings of their prophets, first century Jews knew that there is coming a day of judgment
(or justice) where the wicked will be forever separated from the godly. Consider two examples.
a. Ps 1:5-6—The wicked, those disobedient [and living without God], shall not stand [justified] in the
judgment; nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous [those who are upright and in right
standing with God]…the way of the ungodly…shall perish (end in ruin and come to naught) (Amp).
b. Dan 12:2—(At the resurrection of the dead) many of those whose bodies lie dead and buried will
rise up, some to everlasting life and some to shame and everlasting contempt (NLT).
2. Jesus taught the same message when He was here on earth. He said that the wicked will be eternally
separated from the godly, and it will not be a pleasant experience for them. Consider two examples.
a. Matt 13:24-30; 36-43—Jesus told a parable about wheat and weeds (or tares) to illustrate the fact
that the children of the wicked one (the Devil, Satan) will be separated from the children of God.
1. According to Jesus, when He returns at the end of this age, the godly will shine in their Father’s
kingdom, but the wicked will be cast into a fiery furnace.
2. They will wail and gnash their teeth (a familiar idiom, representing rage, anger, hatred, despair,
disappointment, and agony of spirit, Job 16:9; Ps 37:12; Ps 112:10, Matt 8:12; Matt 13:50; 42).
b. Matt 25:31-46—Jesus said that when He returns to this world, all nations will be gathered before
Him. And just as a shepherd separates his sheep and his goats, there will be a separation of people.
One group will go into God’s kingdom, while the other goes into everlasting punishment.
1. Matt 25:41; 46—Then the King (Jesus) will turn to those on the left and say, “Away with you,
you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the Devil and his demons” …“And they will
go into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life” (NLT).
2. Those who first heard Jesus make these statements would never have taken them to mean that
the future fate of the ungodly is temporary and that one day they will join the godly in Heaven.
3. Universalists say that the words eternal and everlasting mean an indefinite period of time. The
Greek word translated eternal and everlasting stresses permanence and unchangeableness.
Jesus never made any statements that indicate people will be released from eternal punishment.
3. The men who wrote the New Testament were familiar with the Old Testament and were eyewitnesses of
Jesus (or close associates). Every New Testament author mentions future punishment in some way.
But most of the teaching on Hell comes from kind, compassionate, and loving Jesus Himself.
a. Thirteen percent of His words in His teachings (recorded in the gospels) are about Hell and future
punishment. Jesus talked about being cut off from God, fire, darkness, worms that never die, etc.
b. A quick note: People make a mistake when they take the various descriptions too far and try to
paint a literal picture of what Hell is like. The various descriptions of Hell are meant to emphasize
its permanence and unendingness (see TCC—1198 and TCC—1199 for more information on Hell).
1. Hell is a place of spiritual and mental anguish, such as loss and regret. It is the complete
absence of anything that is good and the presence of nothing but wickedness.
2. The torment of Hell is the realization that you are forever lost to your created purpose (sonship
and relationship with God), and there is nothing you can do about it.
c. The purpose of Hell is not restoration or reformation. Hell is a place of justice. It is a carrying out
of justice, of doing what is right. The just penalty for rebellion against our Creator is death—not
physical death, but eternal separation for Almighty God who is life.
1. Paul the apostle wrote to Christians who were being persecuted for their faith in Christ. He
told them that the Lord “in his justice will punish those who persecute you” (II Thess 1:6, NLT).
2. Then Paul described the coming punishment: When the Lord Jesus appears from heaven, he
will come with his mighty angels in flaming fire, bringing judgment on those who don’t know
God and on those who refuse to obey the Good News of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished
with everlasting destruction, forever separated from the Lord and his glorious power (II Thess
3. The Greek words translated judgment and punished have the idea of carrying out a sentence and
administering justice—doing what is right. Consigning people (or giving them over) to Hell is
not an emotional action. It is an administration of justice. It is right to punish wrong doing.
4. John 5:28-29—Jesus said: The time is coming when all the dead in their graves will hear the voice of
God’s Son, and they will rise again. Those who have done good will rise to eternal life, and those who
have continued in evil will rise to judgment (NLT). That’s just what the prophet wrote in Dan 12:2.
a. The Greek word that is translated judgment (or damnation in KJV) means decision, for or against,
and implies justice—raised to meet their sentence (John 5:29, Amp).
b. A quick note: This doesn’t mean that entrance into Heaven depends on how many good works
you’ve done. Good deeds can’t earn us salvation from sin. God’s grace is the basis of our
salvation. His grace comes to us through our faith in Jesus and His shed blood. Titus 3:5; Eph 2:8-9
1. Matt 16:27—For I, the Son of Man, will come in the glory of my Father with his angels and will
judge all people according to their deeds. Jesus’ point is: Surrender to Me and you will have
life. The context of Jesus’ words makes this clear; take up your cross and follow me (v24-27).
2. John 6:28-29—In the context of people asking Jesus how they could receive eternal life, He
said: This is what God wants you to do: Believe in the one he has sent (NLT).
3. Paul wrote: For there is going to come a day of judgment when God, the just judge of all the
world, will judge all people according to what they have done (Rom 2:5-6, NLT). He then
went on to explain that men are made right with God by grace through faith in Jesus (Rom 4).
5. Universalists define words found in the Scripture differently than the original readers and hearers would
have understood them. Universalists say that all, everyone, and the world (God so loved the world; He
wants everyone to be saved; He’ll draw all men to Himself) mean everyone who has ever lived.
a. But when we read these passages in the context of the entire body of Scripture (and as the first
Christians would have heard them), we find that all, everyone, and the world refers to all those and
everyone in the world who believes in the light of Jesus that is given to them.
b. Salvation from sin is offered to all, but to receive it, you must believe in the only remedy for sin
(Jesus and His sacrifice). The gospel message is exclusive inclusivity. It’s for all (inclusive) if
you believe (exclusive).
1. Jesus said—You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell
(the way that leads to destruction) is broad, and the gate is wide for many who choose the easy
way. But the gateway to life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it (Matt
7:13-14, NLT). The way is narrow because there is only one way.
2. Jesus said: There is no judgment awaiting those who trust in him (Jesus). But those who do
not trust him have already been judged for not believing in the only Son of God. Their
judgment is based on this fact: The light from heaven came into this world, but they loved the
darkness more than the light for their actions were evil. They hate the light because they want
to sin in darkness…Those who don’t obey the Son will never experience eternal life (John
3:18-19; 36, NLT).
C. Conclusion: First century Christians saw no contradiction between God’s love and His justice. The first
Christians were Jewish and they were familiar with what Almighty God said about Himself in Scripture.
1. Jer 9:24—Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who
practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight (ESV).
a. The very next statement the Lord made about Himself is: A time is coming, says the Lord, when I
will punish all those who are circumcised in body but not in spirit (Jer 9:25, NLT).
1. Administering justice is an expression of God’s love. The fact that the wicked will be forever
separated from the righteous is an expression of His love.
2. There will never be peace in the universe until all that hurts and harms is removed. Chaos and
corruption will continue in this world throughout eternity if those who refuse God, His standard
of righteousness, and His transforming power are permitted to return to earth.
b. The question is not: How could a loving God send anyone to Hell? The question is: How can
a loving God not remove all that hurts and harms for the good of those who belong to Him?
2. Conclusion: The Bible predicts that, prior to Jesus’ return, false Christian teachings will abound. We
need to know how to answer these challenges so that we don’t be deceived.
a. Your greatest protection against deception is regular, systematic reading of the New Testament.
(over and over, cover to cover) until you become familiar with it.
b. You can get to the point where you are able to confidently say: There’s nothing like what this
person is teaching in the New Testament. Therefore, I reject what they say. More next week!