Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Fallacy of Universal Forgiveness

Today I want to address another heresy spreading itself through Christianity.  While not as pervasive as some of the others I have covered, it is equally as dangerous.  Today I want to talk about the concept of Universal Forgiveness (UF).  To begin, we need to address just what UF is.  It is the concept that the price paid for by Jesus on the cross paid for all the sins of the world.  While that sounds good so far, they take it a step further.  They believe that this forgiveness is already imputed upon the world and in the end the only "sin" that can separate one from God is the one of not accepting Jesus.  I know this sounds right, but it is almost right and where it is wrong, it is tragically wrong. 

First of all, let us begin with where they are right. I do believe the price paid by Jesus did pay for all sin that ever was or ever will be committed.  God desires all to come to Him.  If that is true, then the offer has to be open to all.  If the offer is open to all, then the blood of Jesus must have covered all.  The problem with UF is in the application of that truth.  Whereas I believe the Bible teaches that our sins will be punished unless we accept that offer from God.  In other words, if I do not accept the payment made by Jesus for my sins, I am not forgiven those sins.  UF teaches that forgiveness is already imparted for any and all sin that ever was or ever will be committed, and in the end we are only judged for the rejection of Jesus.  Here is what the Bible says:
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is [the Book] of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.  Revelation 20:11-13 NKJV
We see clearly that, at the final judgment, those not written in the Lamb's Book of Life (those who have accepted Jesus) are judged according to their works.  The truth is that the offer of forgiveness is open to all.  The clever twist is that forgiveness is imparted on everyone. 

The other partial truth is the teaching that the only sin we will be judged for is not accepting Jesus.  While it sounds true, it is not.  The fact is that it is whether or not we have faith in Jesus that determines whether we are saved or not saved, but it is not the only sin we will be judged for.  Coming to Jesus is not merely the success in not committing the one sin we will be judged for, but it is the acceptance of the forgiveness for all of our sins.  For those who do not come to Christ, they are not only judged for that one sin, but they are judged for all of the sin in their lives. 
And He said to me, "It is done!I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death."  Revelation 21:6-8 NKJV
We see clearly here that being unbelieving is one of the many things those outside of Christ will be judged for.  It certainly does not sound like those sins have been forgiven. 

The other problem they have is in determining when this universal forgiveness is applied.  What I mean is that Jesus died at a certain point in time.  Was that forgiveness imparted from that point on or does it include all time before?  If salvation is only possible through Jesus, then how was Lazarus in Abraham's bosom and not in Hades?  If salvation is only possible through Jesus, then is Moses in Heaven? What about Elijah who was taken by a chariot to Heaven?  Considering we know that men such as Abraham, Noah, Moses, and others were declared righteous by their faith in the coming Messiah, we see that his sacrifice must be just as applicable for those who lived before Christ who had hope in the Messiah to come as those in this time who have faith in the Messiah who came and will come again.  If we apply Universal Forgiveness to the fact that the blood of Jesus covers sins committed before it was even spilled, then we have a serious problem.  How could Sodom and Gomorrah have been judged for sins that were forgiven?  Would I just God declare to them that their sins are forgiven, but I am going to rain fire and brimstone down on you anyway?  Why did Israel have to have sacrifices if they were  already forgiven for their sin?  Why did God even give the law if that law even then was pointless as Jesus died for any penalty possible by that law?  Why do we even have the curse of sin then if all sin ever committed has been forgiven before it was even committed? 

And there lies my final point.  For the most part, those who teach universal forgiveness do not teach universal salvation.  They say that even though sins are forgiven, we are still dead in them until we are born again in Christ.  That makes no sense at all.  I believe that universal forgiveness and universal salvation are inseparable no matter how hard they try to keep them apart.  If all your sins are forgiven, how can you be dead in them?   If Jesus covered every sin you have and ever will commit, then why do you even need to accept Jesus at all?  Think about that for a minute.  If all sin was forgiven at the cross, there is no sin in your life to be judged for.  You can not even commit the sin of rejecting Jesus, because if you have no sin you have no need to ever accept Him in the first place.  The objection to my argument would be the "Unpardonable Sin", which is the sin of rejecting the grace of God.  My response is that UF makes the "Unpardonable Sin" impossible to commit.  If forgiveness is universal, then one can not refuse it.  It is automatically imparted on us whether we asked for it or not.  Thus, you can not reject it because you already have it.    

Forgiveness is not universal, but the offer of forgiveness is.  Salvation is not universal, but it is freely given to all who call upon the name of the Lord. Do not let anyone twist the beautiful simplicity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
For the wages of sin [is] death, but the gift of God [is] eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 6:23 NKJV

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