Salvation in No One Else

by Jeffrey W. Hamilton

Text: Acts 4:5-12


I.         In April, 2011, Time Magazine listed their 100 most influential people, among whom was Rob Bell, a preacher who founded a church called “Mars Hill.”

            A.        It isn’t connected with any denomination. Time reveled in calling Mr. Bell and his church “evangelical,” but it isn’t an accurate term, except that it is a fast growing church.

            B.        Mr. Bell, we are told, became annoyed when someone stuck a note to quotation from Gandhi, a noted Hindu, indicating that the quotation didn’t belong. The note said, “Reality check: He’s in hell.”

                        1.         This upset Mr. Bell because, he claims, it can’t be proven.

                        2.         In fact, he has gone further to claim that everyone ends up in heaven.

                        3.         “I affirm the truth anywhere in any religious system, in any world view. If it's true, it belongs to God” [Beliefnet, 'Velvet Elvis' Author Encourages Exploration of Doubts].

            C.        The belief system is known as universal reconciliation or sometimes just universalism.

                        1.         It is the belief that because of the love and mercy of God, everyone will ultimately be reconciled to God.

                        2.         It has been around for a long time. Even from the second century. “I would believe with Origen that universalism is no easy thing. Origen believed that after death there were many who would need prolonged instruction, the sternest discipline, even the severest punishment before they were fit for the presence of God. Origen did not eliminate hell; he believed that some people would have to go to heaven via hell. He believed that even at the end of the day there would be some on whom the scars remained. He did not believe in eternal punishment, but he did see the possibility of eternal penalty” [William Barclay, “I am a Convinced Universalist”]

                        3.         In other words, the Roman Catholic belief in purgatory has its roots in the teachings of Origen.

            D.        Mr. Bell is just another in a long list of Universalists.

                        1.         He says that “the redemptive work of Jesus may be universal – meaning that, ... “every person who ever lived” could have a place in heaven, whatever that turns out to be.” [Jon Meacham, “Pastor Rob Bell: What If Hell Doesn’t Exist?” Time, 4/14/2011].

                        2.         “At the center of the Christian tradition since the first church have been a number who insist that history is not tragic, hell is not forever, and love, in the end, wins and all will be reconciled to God.”

II.        Are there multiple ways to salvation?

            A.        Ephesians 4:4-6 - There is only one faith, just as there is only one God

                        1.         The gospel is the power of salvation - Romans 1:16

                        2.         There can be no other - Galatians 1:6-10

                        3.         Those who reject the message are perishing - I Corinthians 1:18-23

                        4.         Matthew 7:13-14 - The teaching of universalism reverses the paths, saying the broad path leads to salvation

            B.        Salvation is only through Jesus - Acts 4:12

                        1.         Jesus is the way – John 14:6

                        2.         Disbelief in Jesus condemns - John 3:17-19

                        3.         Without belief, one dies in his sins - John 8:24

                        4.         Paul preached that salvation is through Jesus - Acts 13:38-39

                                    a.         He warned that rejecting the message would bring a curse - Acts 13:40-41

                                    b.         A curse that was confirmed - Acts 13:45-46

            C.        Rejecting Christ is to reject the Father - I John 2:22-23

                        1.         Rejecting Christ’s teachings means you do not have God - II John 9

                        2.         It is the same as calling God a liar - I John 5:9-12

            D.        If there was any other way to be saved, such as through the law, then Jesus’ death was in vain - Galatians 2:21

III.       But what the universalist claims is that Jesus died for everyone, so it is still through Jesus

            A.        It is true that God wants all saved - II Peter 3:9

                        1.         Without repentance, we perish - Luke 13:3

            B.        It is true that Jesus died for all

                        1.         God gave His Son for all - Romans 8:32

                        2.         Hebrews 2:9 - He died for everyone

                        3.         He death as a propitiation for everyone’s sins - I John 2:2

            C.        This means salvation is universally available, but it doesn’t mean everyone will be saved

                        1.         Note the use of “should” in II Peter 3:9. There is no reason any should perish, but it doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

                        2.         In fact, just before Peter warned of false teachers bring destructive heresies that will destroy them - II Peter 2:1-3

                                    a.         Peter then proved that God is able to destroy - II Peter 2:4-9

                                    b.         Their own corruption will destroy them - II Peter 2:12

                        3.         The current world is reserved for destruction - II Peter 3:7

                        4.         It is because God will destroy that we ought to be holy - II Peter 3:11-14

IV.      What most universalist do is claim that the wicked suffer temporarily until they get it right

            A.        Men only die once and the only next event is the judgment - Hebrews 9:27

            B.        The wicked suffer a second death - Revelation 20:14-15; 21:8

                        1.         But God’s people will not suffer the second death - Revelation 20:6

            C.        There is a separation of the good from the bad - Matthew 25:31-33

                        1.         The destiny of both groups is eternal - Matthew 25:46

            D.        There is no mention of changing destinies, which is why being righteous now is so important.

V.        What is the end of the ungodly? - I Peter 4:17-18

            A.        People don’t drift into heaven. It comes by effort. If it takes effort on our part, then what happens to those who don’t even try?

            B.        We understand, which is why we teach - II Corinthians 5:10-11

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