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Bible Dictionary: Define Universalism, Definition of Universalism



This is a controversial subject with many opinions.  Often, the theology conflicts with what God says through His Word, the Bible.  Of course, all sides claim to have the correct interpretation of Scripture.

There is not a reference to universalism in the Bible. There is a verse that, in one translation refers to "the time of universal restitution." Other translations say, "the time when everything will be restored" or "the times of restitution of all things."

Some people use the straw man arguments to defeat any opposing view.  That's too bad among followers of Christ.  It should not happen.  Others try to associate all who believe what the Bible says about the restitution of all things in the same grouping as people like the Unitarian Universalists or those who claim that there is no hell.  Such tactics are a form of demagoguery and ought not to be used by followers of Christ.

Without a volume of cleverly deceitful human rationalism of the actual message of the Bible, the following types of false beliefs would not be accepted by anyone:

  • "All ways lead to God"
  • "There are ways, other than Christ, to God."
  • "There is no hell"
  • "Hell is not that bad"
  • "Hell is eternal"
  • "Hell is very short"
  • "God's punishments are not remedial"
  • "There will never be a restitution of all things"

There is nothing in the Bible that says that all ways lead to God. There is nothing in the Bible that would in any way indicate that there is some way other than Christ by which anything can be reconciled to God. There is plenty that says that it is only through Christ that anyone can approach God or be reconciled to God. There is nothing in Scripture that would in any way indicate that there is not a hell, although the word, hell is a translation from the original text. We may not know a lot about hell, but we know it is terrible. There is nothing that indicates that hell is eternal. It certainly does burn for a long time. There is nothing in scripture that says that punishment is ever given in a way other than as a remedy. Every instance of punishment seems to be remedial, and this is in perfect unity with God's nature and the whole of Scripture. The Scripture does speak of a universal restitution, a restitution of all things.

Problems arise whenever anyone goes beyond Scripture. That is, when anyone adds to Scripture or takes from Scripture. A theology has been developed that goes beyond the Bible on the one hand by saying such things as "there is no hell," "there is a hell, but hell is not all that bad," "God would never correct anyone through punishment," or "all ways lead to God." I'm sure that there are other examples of this extreme view. On the other hand, a robust theology has developed beyond the Bible that makes the Scripture conflict with itself. This is a problem if we are to believe the entire Bible. This extreme dogma causes some theologians to find extra-biblical reasons to rationalize away the Scriptures that plainly say such things as, "As in Adam all die, so in Christ shall all be made alive." Some people do not, as a result, believe in the restitution of all things, which is also a plain teaching of Scripture just as Hell is a plain teaching of Scripture. Sometimes, the best answer is, "We believe it all, but God has not yet told us how He is going to do this."

Let's look at Acts 3:21 in three different translations.  

He must remain in heaven until the time of universal restitution, which God announced long ago through the voice of his holy prophets. International Standard Version (2008)  
Heaven must receive Jesus until the time when everything will be restored as God promised through his holy prophets long ago. GOD'S WORD Translation (1995)  
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. King James Bible

Here are some more Scriptures. Every Scripture is true. If you are involved with people who are constantly telling you why the Bible is not true or does not apply, run, do not walk away.  

For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22

Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish. Matthew 18:14

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:4

Say to them, [As] I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? Ezekiel 33:11

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance to all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead. And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this [matter]. Acts 17:30-32

For this [is] good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:4

Acts 3:19-21 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached to you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.  

Psalm 8:6-9 Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet: All sheep and oxen, yea, and the beasts of the field; The fowl of the air, and the fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the seas. O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!

1 Corinthians 15:24-28 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued to him, then shall the Son also himself be subject to him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

Ephesians 1:10-11 & 20-23 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:... Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all  

Hebrews 2:6-9 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man, that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands: Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.  

Ephesians 4:10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

There are some who use rationalized logic to wave these Scriptures away.  Let God be true and every man a liar.  

Often, a Christian who has a pre-determined doctrine in which he or she has been trained will see all of the Bible through the lens of that doctrine. The doctrine becomes a limiting paradigm.  This is exactly what happened to the religious people in the days of Jesus. In fact, this lens is referred to as a veil in 2 Corinthians 3, and is an obvious reference to the flesh. Most of the arguments that are out in Babylon are claiming that a person has or a group of persons have the correct interpretation of Scripture. Generally, you will find very few who will make the claim that the Holy Spirit revealed the Scripture to them. Rather, it is by their magnificent minds that they have figured out the Scripture, and, if you were half as intelligent as them, you also would figure out the same thing. They add to Scripture and remove from Scripture by the power of the natural mind. This happens with those who come from either extreme, the TULIP side or the Unitarian/Universalist side. (Read More)

For all of this, the Scripture must agree with itself. Arguments could be made endlessly, but what is the spiritual authority of the arguer once he or she ahs gone beyond what the Scriptures teach to arguments about the meanings of words. And, when the simple, straightforward meaning is in agreement with the rest of Scripture while the mistranslation or inconsistent meaning of the work is not in agreement with the rest of Scripture, then drop the theology and commune with God. Pray that He lift the veil from your eyes that you might see. Once you do see, realize that you only see in part. There is always more that God would love to reveal to you if you are humble.

The Scriptures that mention the salvation of all and the restitution of all are very clear. No theology should be followed if it requires that certain Scriptures must be rationalized away.

Last updated: May, 2013

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