Occasionally, people ask me if Grace
Communion International teaches “Universalism.” Universalism is a belief that
everyone will be saved, regardless of whether or not they are good or bad, have
repented of their sins, or have accepted Jesus as their savior.
The answer is “no,” we do not teach
that. The Bible teaches that there is salvation only in Christ. It also tells
us, for instance in 2 Peter 3:9, that God desires all to come to repentance, and
he has created and redeemed humanity for true fellowship with him. In Jesus
Christ, who is God’s elect for our sakes, all humanity is elect in him as the
new Adam. By this, I mean that everyone is eligible to receive God’s offer of
forgiveness of sin and eternal life extended to them by the Holy Spirit. But
that does not necessarily mean that all humans will accept that gift.
We also believe that in Christ, God
makes gracious and just provisions for all, even for those who at death appear
not to have yet believed the gospel. So careful students of the Bible recognize
that, whereas the scriptures do not enable us to determine ahead of time the
final state of everyone, we need not rule out the power and grace of God to
fulfill his desire to save everyone.
However, there may be some who remain
stubbornly hostile to God. Repudiating grace, rejecting their Savior, they
would not enter into their salvation. It’s hard to believe that anyone would
make a choice like that, but if we are to be faithful to scripture, we must
allow it as a possibility. The important thing to remember is that it is their choice–not
their destiny. As C. S. Lewis shrewdly
observed, “the doors of hell are locked from the inside.”
God has done everything possible to
save us from the terrible and horrific condition that is hell. He has given us
his Son, Jesus, as our representative and substitute to stand in for us as our
High Priest. And the Spirit works to draw us, so that we can share in all the
benefits held for us in Christ. Yet in the end, we cannot presume upon the
grace of God, and dogmatically declare that God will indeed violate the
deliberate choice of those who willfully and persistently reject His love and
turn away from Him and his Spirit.
So, even though we cannot say for
certain that all humans will ultimately accept God’s gift, surely, we can hope
that is the case. That is, after all what God has said he desires, and surely,
wanting what God desires does not make you a heretic.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.