And so, as I thought over the arguments, I mulled over several 'technicalities' that I could hold up and against those assertions. However, as I thought over the heart of the matter, I was very pleased with the author's conclusions. The scriptural evidence for all being saved is at least as strong as the evidence for eternal torment. The real question is: what is God's heart in all of this? I'm not sure about you, but it rings so true that God our Father, who allowed His Son to die for the world, would make a way to redeem His people. All of His people.
But here I go on a tangent. It would be ridiculous to begin to defend the universalist position after what I just came to. I've come to an understanding, but is it possible to communicate?
God is obviously not about the technical, academic, point-by-point argument for one doctrine over another. We miss the heart when we try to define truth. JESUS is the truth. His purpose will stand. He will accomplish all He has in His heart and without fail. What a sad event for us to miss the boat that Jesus commands. Faith and trust lift us into His boat and we must abide and submit to ride along with Him.
But what about discovering a specific truth - what about judgment of the wicked? Can we know what will happen to them? To us?
It seems apparent that God has left several doors open in different areas of 'doctrine'. Have you noticed that?
An example is free will vs God's sovereignty. There is plenty of 'scriptural evidence' on both sides of that debate to keep it going until Jesus returns. Do you think that is an unfortunate failing of the Bible? To be unclear about salvation? What about 'once saved, always saved'? Many debates there. 'Do you need to be baptized to be saved?' There are many doctrines and points of belief that Christians argue over and defend with passion. Many times these arguments cause divisions. Should we think that these divisions are a shocking result to God? No doubt our divisions cause Him grief, but He must have allowed for all these positions.
He knew we would be tempted to grab our position and hold to it and defend it.
He opened several doors for our belief about judgment of the wicked. The most common including eternal torment, annihilation and refining redemption. Ask yourself, why did He do this?
I believe He did this to test us.
"For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart." - Hebrews 4:12
As we grab on to doctrines and hold tight and begin to love them more than people - or even hurt others with our defenses, then we expose ourselves in God's sight. His word judges our thoughts and intentions.
Perhaps more important than the technical rightness of a doctrine, is our response to what we believe God is telling us. What we believe is a test itself. How we respond to what we believe is a test. The test is a judgment. God's word judges the heart. Jesus is the Word. Jesus is the Truth. He knows our hearts already, but His word can pierce into our very souls and expose our thoughts and intentions - our very hearts.
So, I am finding that instead of trying to convince people that what I have found is 'the truth'. I need to live the truth and live in Jesus and do what I can to encourage others to do that very thing. They don't need to believe what I believe - they need to be IN JESUS.
Also, I need to stop judging people for what they believe about hell, and let God's word do that. I've seen that my sin (judging others, pride, wrangling about words, etc.) will never bring God's light into another's life. And, after all, that is what Jesus has called us to be: lights.
Father, help me to be a light of encouragement. Please take judgment out of my heart. Give me the power and courage to live what I know to be true in You. May I know You more.