Faith & Self Defense

Building Confidence Through Evidence

Archive for the tag “universalism”

The Hell Test – Tested (Final Part)

But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Revelation 21:22-27

We saw in our last test of The Hell Test  that “anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15) While that seems to be a statement of finality, there are still two chapters left in The Revelation of Jesus Christ. Maybe it will be there that we discover something missing in the argument of “Christian Universalism;” that God will one day redeem every human being ever born, no matter what they believed or what they did during their lifetime, and welcome them into the eternity of Heaven. Let’s see.

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 16)

“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. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:11-15

In our last testing of The Hell Test, we saw that Jesus Christ revealed Himself to the Apostle John and the seven churches of Asia Minor as the Great Judge of the earth. In Revelation 20 we see Jesus sitting on His “great white throne” and the earth and the heaven disappearing from His “face.” We also see the dead, “small and great,” standing before Him. Books were opened and the dead were judged according to their works, “by the things which were written in the books.” Another book was opened, “which is the Book of Life.” Anyone not found “written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Could God have been any clearer about His intent to judge the dead and to “cast” those not found written in the Book of Life “into the lake of fire”? Well, maybe not. So-called “Christian Universalists” believe God has something else in mind for that lake of fire.

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 15)

“And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:15

That’s an ominous statement concerning the human race, but I’m ahead of myself. Let’s go to the beginning to see how and why this will happen.

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 14)

It’s interesting to me that people who call themselves Christians and present themselves as students of the Bible don’t believe in God’s judgment. Even as a brand new Christian, just saved from atheism, I knew that God was the Eternal Judge Who ruled from Heaven. Why did I believe that? Because as I asked Christians questions about the existence and nature of God, they presented His position as Judge of angels and humans to me clearly. And, I might add, nothing I’ve read, heard, or seen since that day more than 40 years ago has changed that fact.

In the last part of our test of The Hell Test we looked at what the Old Testament taught about Messianic Judgment. Jesus, Who the New Testament identifies as the promised Messiah, explained in detail who He would judge, why He would judge them, how He would judge them, where He would judge them, when He would judge them, and what sentence they would receive. So, let’s get started.

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 13)

“You might want to reconsider the argument in your post. No serious scholar thinks this story is about hell.”

That is one of the written responses I received after posting The Hell Test – Tested (Part 12). First, the premise cannot be proven because the term “serious scholar” is not defined and only known to the mind of the writer. Second, when described by a scholarly definition – “thoughtful and sober learned person who has done advanced study in a special field” (Webster’s Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) – we will find many “serious scholars” who would agree that Luke 16:19-31 is about hell. Third, what does it matter whether anyone agrees with what you believe if what you believe is clearly stated in Scripture?

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 12)

“And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:23

In our last study we saw Jesus declaring to the Pharisees the result of serving riches instead of God. It happened when the Pharisees heard Jesus telling His disciples the parable of the unjust steward. Jesus hit the Pharisees where it hurts – in their pride and pocket book.

“No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.’ Now the Pharisees, who were lovers of money, also heard all these things, and they derided Him. And He said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:13-15

It was after those words that Jesus told the Pharisees about the rich man, Lazarus and Abraham. The story included the use of the word hade (hades).

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 11)

“If the Rich Man and Lazarus story (Luke chapter 16) is real and NOT a parable, then we will be able to converse with our loves ones who did not make it into heaven. Would heaven really be paradise if this were true?” (The Hell Test)

The short answer to The Hell Test’s question about whether the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is real or a parable is – it’s real. Check out our previous post for a background about parables in the ancient world.

Parables are about real-life issues, but not real-life people. When you see a story with the names of real people used in it (e.g. Lazarus, Abraham), you know the story is real and not a parable. Another clue is when the writer identifies a story as a parable.

To help us see that the story of the rich man, Lazarus and Abraham is real and not a parable, let’s first look at examples of Christ’s parables in the Gospel of Luke.

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 10)

“If there is a Hell and according to most denominations of Christianity the majority of mankind will go there, could you really enjoy heaven knowing your mother or father or children or best friend are suffering everlasting tortures the likes of which would make the Holocaust seem like a picnic? If the Rich Man and Lazarus story (Luke chapter 16) is real and NOT a parable, then we will be able to converse with our loves ones who did not make it into heaven. Would heaven really be paradise if this were true?” (The Hell Test)

These are typical questions by universalists. How could we “enjoy” Heaven if our loved ones are suffering everlasting torture? Notice the emphasis on “our” enjoyment, not God’s justice and glory. Then there’s the question about whether the story in Luke 16 about the rich man and Lazarus is “real” or a “parable.” That’s an important question since truth is always the key to faith. Jesus told the story about Lazarus and the rich man for a reason. We need to know why He told it and how it impacts our life and the lives of the people we know and love.

It’s interesting to see the universalist’s question about whether Heaven could really be paradise if hell was true. That’s not an honest way to approach truth. We cannot and should not base our acceptance of what’s true on whether we like it or not. If we trust God, then His truth will always be the right thing.

With that being said, let’s put The Hell Test to the test.

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 9)

“If Hell was real, does that mean Jesus raised the wicked from an unconscious state, make them alive only to be endlessly tortured? Wouldn’t it be more merciful to just leave them eternally unconscious (which some believe)? (Ecc. 9:5; John 11:11)” (The Hell Test)

The author of The Hell Test is using the “straw man” technique to throw people off the trail of the truth – “If hell was real” … “Jesus raised the wicked from an unconscious state” … “make them alive only to be endlessly tortured” … “Wouldn’t it be more merciful” …

The “straw man” argument is a type of informal fallacy that misrepresents the position of people who believe in Christ’s eternal judgment of the wicked and creates the illusion that they have effectively refuted the position. The author of The Hell Test fails in his attempt to persuade because of the weakness of his argument.

The “straw man” argument is often used with highly-charged emotional issues where logic and facts are lacking on the side of those who build the straw man. It’s a process of moving attention away from the facts and toward the emotions (e.g. fear, pity, anger). The subject of Christ’s final judgment of the wicked deserves more and better than this.

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The Hell Test – Tested (Part 8)

“If Hell doesn’t exist in the Old Testament, how could Jesus and his disciples teach that salvation was deliverance from a place that is not even found in their Scriptures? (There was only the Old Testament at that time.) Would that not make Him appear like a false teacher? Or could it be that Jesus never taught such a concept in the first place? Could it be that this concept has been added to the church and SOME Bibles through “traditions of men?” (The Hell Test)

Here’s another trick of the so-called “Christian” universalists: state a theory as if it is fact and attack anyone who disagrees. As we’ve shown in previous studies, the God of the Old Testament will judge the wicked. That’s clear from the many Hebrew Scriptures we quoted during our test of The Hell Test. The question is how and how long?

Here’s what “Christian” universalists believe about the eternal future of unbelievers:

“We believe in the ultimate triumph of divine mercy and grace: that no being ever created will be condemned or allowed to suffer forever, but God has arranged through a benevolent plan of learning and growth for all souls to attain salvation, reconciliation, restoration, and reunion with the Source of All Being, in the fullness of the ages.” (Christian Universalist Association, What We Believe – #4)

The universalists question how Jesus and His disciples could possibly teach that salvation was deliverance from a place that is not even found in the Hebrew Scriptures. They make thinking that even more terrible by suggesting that anyone who believes such a thing would be making Jesus to “appear like a false teacher.” They go even further to claim that what Jesus said about His judgment – “has been added to the church and SOME Bibles through ‘traditions of men.”

Jesus was certainly not a false teacher, so whatever He said about the future of the unbelieving would be the final answer. As for the Words of Christ concerning His coming Judgment being “added to the church and SOME Bibles,” it’s ridiculous to say that in light of the thousands of ancient copies of the New Testament that can be investigated. If something had been “added” to Church doctrine and “SOME” Bibles, we would see that clearly and easily in the ancient records of the Church.

The reason we’re testing The Hell Test is because the author of The Hell Test asked us to saying it is “a test every pastor, Bible teacher and seminary professor should be required to take before being allowed to teach.”  That’s another trick of the universalists: to present themselves as having full knowledge (gnostic) and everyone else needing to learn at their feet.  

“Give a copy of this test to those to whom you have submitted yourself. See whether they know their subject. If salvation is indeed deliverance from a Hell of everlasting punishment, then the answers to these questions are vital to your well being.” (The Hell Test) 

We agree. The answers to God’s Test are vital to everyone’s well-being. Are you ready to put The Hell Test to the test again? So are we.

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