The Reasons Why Universalism is False
by Don Hewey
If you would like to offer a rebuttal to any portion of this article, please post your response at this link . Please place the title of this article and the corresponding section number (the larger bolded number that we added in front of each mini-section) in your rebuttal. Please respond section by section.
1. False teachers of Universalism will attempt three paramount points that are critical to their doctrine, in order to show that hell is not eternal, but only temporary, but in doing so, deny that God is eternal. By doing so, they indirectly deny that eternal life that can only be given from God (1Timothy 6:16, 1 Timothy 1:17) which completely denies the authority of the Holy Bible:
2. To diminish and cast doubt upon the severity of the Greek words: hades and gehenna; to show that it is not "hell," but that is clearly shown in scripture to be false by virtue of Revelation 20:14, where hades, tarturus and gehenna is cast into the lake of fire. So their point is irrelevant and inaccurate in light of what scripture teaches us, because hades, tarturus and gehenna all are destined for the lake of fire.
3. The errors of Universalism are readily apparent in their attempts to illustrate by using scripture that the Greek word's: 'aionion and aionios' which translated into English denote "everlasting, for ever, for evermore" are only used in a temporary sense (eon, eon of the eons, eonian, age-during, age's past, et al.).
4. The inaccurate teaching that the word "all" in scripture, is "everything, all with no exceptions" is easily defeated in light of scripture.
5. Carelessness and wanton disregard for scripture is a trademark for false doctrine. Scripture clearly removes any ambiguity and clearly defines groups of
nations, groups of believer's versus unbeliever's, groups of the Jews versus the
Gentiles, those receiving eternal life versus eternal damnation, etc. But by doing so, the Universalist by introducing these four blatant errors (among others) is caught in a hopeless paradox that cannot be explained in light of scripture.
6. In these instances a figure of speech is not a license to modify the thought which the figure expresses; it is rather to be recognized that a figure of speech, in these passages, is a feeble attempt to declare in language that which is beyond the power of words to describe. It is true that a figure of speech is not a complete demonstration of truth (theologia symbolica non est demonstretiva); but the idea of eternal retribution could be conveyed to the human mind in no other way. God has clearly shown that His attributes are beyond Human comprehension or understanding as shown in Job chapter 38. To even hint that mankind can understand God is a direct insult to God and cannot claim to believe the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures by teaching that "God is temporary."
7. Just so far as language can serve to express truth the effort is being made to declare what the Scriptures assert, namely, that for those who pass out of this life which life is probationary in character there is no basis for the hope that any divine grace will be extended to them in a future existence.
8. There is also no scriptural precedent or doctrine taught within scripture that illustrates justification apart from faith in the LORD Jesus Christ. Legions of angels have sinned and for them there is not the slightest intimation to be found in the Bible which extends to them any hope of salvation whatsoever.
Jude 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
Rev 12:7-9: And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
9. By the Word of God, these angels are already consigned to the lake of fire, the moment they fell from heaven with Lucifer, their eternal damnation sealed (Luke 16:26). God has said, without condition, that the fallen angels will be cast into the lake of fire, God would be found untrue should the destiny of the fallen angels be otherwise. Likewise, there is the case of the Gentiles from Adam to Moses who, for the most part, are well described in Romans 1:18-32 as those who willfully rejected God and who, three times in this one context, are said to be abandoned by God to their sinful ways.
10. The result of any unprejudiced investigation into God's revealed truth respecting fallen angels and God-rejecting Gentiles of past ages will be a conviction that the marvel of it all is not that sinners are lost, but that they are even saved; and in this connection it is clearly understood that the death of Christ for the world does not serve as a partial payment for sin's and the ground of a remote hope that all lost souls will be saved: that death becomes, rather, the basis of a greater damnation (Mark 12:40, Matthew 23:14, Luke 20:47) upon those who reject the LORD Jesus Christ.
11. Their inherent unrighteousness is augmented by the immeasurable sin of rejecting the only payment for sin: the blood of Jesus Christ which is by faith in Him. Nothing but infinite perfect grace made possible through an infinite perfect sacrifice can avail to save the lost; yet human opinion is ever intruding into area's wherein it knows nothing, insisting that the lost, if lost at all, might be saved in any one of a multitude of ways. This is contrary to scripture (Acts 4:12, John 14:6, John 3:36, 1John 5:12, et.al.).
12. The strongest emphasis is needed on the only truth that eternal damnation is not only a doctrine fully asserted and taught clearly in the Bible, but that scripture is absolutely perfect and inspired by God (Hebrews 4:12, 2 Timothy 3:16, Psalm 12:6-7) with no ambiguity. Scripture specifically condemns those who add to/subtract from the Word of God by reason, philosophy or opinion from human reason:
Romans 3:4 God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcomewhen thou art judged.
Psalm 62:9 Surely men of low degree are vanity, and men of high degree are a lie: to be laid in the balance, they are altogether lighter than vanity.
13. As heaven is a place and not a mere state of mind, in like manner those accursed go to a place of eternal damnation. This truth is indicated by the words hades (Matt. 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; 16:23; Rev. 1:18; 20:13-14) and gehenna (Matt. 5:22, 29-30; 10:28; James 3:6) a place of "torment" (Luke 16:28) and tarturus for only the fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4).
14. That it is a condition of unspeakable misery is indicated by the figurative terms used to describe its sufferings"everlasting fire" (Matt. 25:41); "where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44, 46); "the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone" (Rev. 21:8); "bottomless pit" (Rev. 9:2); "outer darkness," a place of "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt. 8:12); "fire unquenchable" (Luke 3:17); "furnace of fire" (Matt. 13:42); "blackness of darkness" (Jude 1:13), and "the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night" (Rev. 14:11).
15. It is well to observe, also, that nearly every one of these expressions regarding hell, fell from the lips of Christ, as is all of scripture (2 Timothy 3:16, Proverbs 30:5). He alone has disclosed all that is revealed of this place of retribution. It is as though no human author could be depended upon to speak forth all of this terrible truth.
16. The second reaction of the sincere human mind after acknowledging the indisputable truth that retribution is an actual place of suffering is to entertain the hope that this distress of the lost is not eternal, or everlasting. It is natural for the mind to cling to such a hope and a few men have gone to great lengths in their attempts so to expound the Scriptures that the idea of everlasting retribution will be excluded. Inadequate, if not insincere, translations are published which no Greek scholar can countenance, with the one purpose in view of expunging from the Word of God the eternal character of these awful sufferings.
17. The fact that many are untaught will account for the ready reception given to such interpretations of the Scriptures and by their own words contradict themselves. Only the uninformed will listen to the voice of a man who has no scholarship and ignore the fact that the greatest Greek scholars of all generations who have given to the Church the true translation and interpretation
of the original Greek text have not modified the eternal feature of retribution.
To be ignorant of the Greek text is not reprehensible, but to disregard the voice of all the worthy translators is reprehensible.
18. However, the most misleading error respecting retribution is that which falls back in blind dependence upon the one attribute of God, namely, His love, and ignores the attributes of holiness, righteousness, and justice, and the supreme control these attributes exercise over the love of God.
19. If a term may be coined at this point, those who thus restrict their vision of God's love may be styled Mercyists. Thus the Mercyists may be classified as those of all creeds and no creeds who believe that eternal retribution is impossible since God is love. Such, indeed, do not understand the gospel by which sinners are saved. It is supposed that God is generous and that He forgives sin as an act of clemency or leniency, that He being a Sovereign God can forgive whom He will and when He will. This fallacy underlies nearly all opposing thought contrary to the doctrine of eternal retribution. It is assumed that, since God is love, His affection for His creatures will prompt Him to rescue them from suffering. If the Bible declares that He will not rescue those reprobated and that their estate is eternal, then the Bible is rejected and God Himself is classed as One who cannot be defended.
20. Many are the attempts made by those who understand nothing of the real character of God to save Him from the undesirable reputation He must
acquire if He does not in compassion rescue all beings from eternal retribution.
21. Such is the doctrinal confusion which arises when one truth is stressed without regard for other truths which qualify it. God is holiness and righteousness as well as love It is the holiness of His Person and the righteousness of His government which preclude Him from any mere generosity which would make light of sin. In fact, sin is sufficiently sinful to require eternal retribution as
the divine penalty for it. There is no field for argument at this point. The Word
of God must stand and man must be reminded that of the two issues involved---sin and holiness---he knows nothing about their depth of meaning.
22. Being absolute, divine holiness cannot be varied or altered in the least degree. This truth is the key to the entire problem which the idea of retribution engenders. If God could have forgiven one sin of one person as an act of mere kindness, He would have compromised His own holiness which demands judgment for sin. Having thus compromised Himself with sin, He would need Himself to be saved because of the unrighteous thing He had done.
23. He would, by such supposed kindness, have established a principle by which He could forgive all human sin as an act of divine clemency, and thus the death of Christ is rendered unnecessary. This truth must not be overlooked if the doctrine of eternal retribution is to be understood at all. Let it be restated that, if God could save one soul from one sin by mere generosity, He could save all souls from sin by generosity and the death of Christ thus becomes the greatest possible divine blunder.
24. It is the fact of unyielding divine holiness which demands either the retribution of the sinner or the death of Christ in his room and stead. God is love, and that love is demonstrated by the gift of the Son that men might be saved; but love and mercy did not circumvent the demands of holiness to save the sinner: they paid its every demand.
25. The conclusion of the matter is that God, because of His holiness, cannot save the lost unless His holy demands are met for the sinner, as they are met in the death of Christ; and to be unsaved, or outside the grace of God as it is in Christ, is to be destined to eternal retribution. God can do no more than to provide a perfect salvation, which is provided at infinite cost. When love will pay such a price that a sinner may be saved and holiness remain untarnished, it ill becomes finite men to tamper with these immutable realities. Those who resent the idea of eternal retribution are, in fact, resenting divine holiness. However, the message of God's grace to sinful men is not merely a proclamation of eternal condemnation; it is rather that the chief of sinners may be saved through the Savior that infinite love has provided.