A Common Heresy Of Our Day

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In an insidious way the “emergent church,” which took the spotlight a decade or so ago, only to morph into “progressives,” has given impetus to one of the saddest heresies that could ever be. People like Paul Young (The Shack) and Rob Bell (Love Wins) reduced God to one quality: love.

But isn’t God, love? Yes, absolutely. But He is so much more. He is also merciful and kind, gracious and forgiving, creative and communicative, powerful and all knowing. But He is also some things we in western society seem to ignore or deny: He is jealous, the way a husband is about the purity of His wife; He is wrathful, the way a father might react to the rape of His daughter; He is just, the way a judge is who faces a mass murderer.

The truth is, God’s jealousy and wrath and justice are not contradictory to His love; the are extensions of it. A loving God cares for the oppressed and the needy, so what does that mean for the oppressor and for the one who is stingy or selfish? How does God manifest love to both sides of robbery or rape or scam?

By extending His forgiveness to both. Yes, even those who have received harsh treatment, unfair treatment, have committed sin. None of us is perfect. All of us need God’s great grace. And God offers it freely.

But not everyone accepts it.

The heresy of the day says that God simply waves off the part of Scripture that says someone must believe in order to receive life eternal. Apparently, in the thinking of those who fall into this wrong thinking, God is simply too loving to be just. He cares so much for the perpetrator of evil, He will not punish him. After all, the thinking goes, Jesus already paid the price for all our sins.

There’s truth there, which is, of course, how all error presents itself: it shows some truth before it twists it into abject falsehood.

I realize some Christians believe that, no, Christ died only for the elect, whoever they might be. We just don’t know.

As clearly as Scripture portrays the existence of an “elect” and believers who are “predestined,” it just as clearly portrays God’s gift of salvation as available to the world and free for all.

But there’s a huge gulf between those two positions—salvation for the elect on one hand and salvation for everyone on the other. Scripture makes a very clear case that salvation is given to all, but received by some.

Romans 5 is one of the best passages, but certainly not the only one, that walks the tightrope between the two extremes. Here are the pertinent verses:

For while we were still helpless [all of us], at the right time Christ died for the ungodly [all of us]. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die [but there is none righteous, none good]. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners [all of us], Christ died for us [all of us]. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. [all of us?] For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. [sounds like all of us] And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. [only some—emphasis mine]

Clearly, receiving the necessary reconciliation—becoming restored to a relationship with God—is dependent upon receiving what has been offered. So God’s saving work is available to all, but only efficacious for some—those who believe and receive.

The sad heresy of our day would have people believe that whatever their path of spirituality, or no path at all, they will nevertheless be accepted into eternal life with God.

It’s sad and not loving because it withholds the truth about the eternal condition of the lost. They can go through life and hear from Rob Bell or any of these other universalists that they’re just fine, not lost, not perishing, not in need.

The loving thing is to let people know that we’re all in the same boat, all right there together in a boat headed for spiritual death. But there is hope, there is rescue, there is a Savior.

Problem is, no one will look for a Savior if they don’t know there’s something from which they must be saved.

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11 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Universal Atonement and Universalism are radically different doctrines. For example I believe in the former but believe the majority will go to Hell as God foreknew.

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    • I’m not familiar with all the terms, Rachel, but I would imagine the first is identifying Christ’s free gift for all, which still must be believed and received. That’s the “middle” point I find consistent with Scripture.

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

      • A lot of Calvinists confuse the two. They disagree with both–L from Calvin’s TULIP is for “limited atonement”–but should know what doctrine they are trying to refute. I embrace the one but disagree with the second. “The LORD is not willing any should perish but that men everywhere come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

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  2. Thanks for this well-expressed article. I have a friend in the everyone is saved camp and over the years we’ve had many, many discussions on this issue. I’ll have to let her read what you’ve posted here.

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    • Christine, I’m glad this article is one you want to share with her. Hopefully it can spark further discussion. It’s awesome that you’re engaged with her about this.

      Becky

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  3. Thank you for a clear and concise discussion of one of the most difficult doctrines in Christian faith. We know that God desires all to repent and be reconciled to him. We know that Jesus paid a ransom sufficient to save the entire world and all those who live in it. We also know that some people refuse this gift and turn their backs on Christ and his forgiveness. Some think they don’t need God’s grace; others love their sins more than they love their Savior. God grieves over their rejection of his grace, but he grants their request to give them what they deserve–no more and no less. J.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is so important; in Genesis, Elohim is used=Gods (Plural) ( El =God) the plural is used in Genesis 1 and later when God says We will make man in our own image. Jesus refers to being one with the Father and then offers to send the holy spirit of Truth to each of us, I love the cube analogy too. May I quote you or share the blog?
    Thanks
    Jane
    jsbuttery@yahoo.ca

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, Jane, feel free to quote or share! I think it’s important that we stand against this false teaching because it distorts God’s nature. And thank you for pointing out the plural word form for God in Genesis. That really does support the plural pronoun, which does translate into English. And I found the cube analogy helpful too. I thought that video was well done, but in need of Scripture, too. I mean, as the video pointed out, logic can only take us so far.

      Thanks for adding to this subject!

      Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you, Becky. will do and let you know in a week. I also head up a prayer group and we write the Prayers of the people for Sundays( Anglican Church) so I have them to do and an article to finishfirst

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