The Atonement: Limited or Universal?
Debate Rounds (5)
The thesis I will be putting forward in this debate is that the extent of the atonement of Christ is limited and extended only to God's elect.
But the reason for debating this position is not merely to positively state a case for what is commonly know as the doctrine of limited atonement. Rather, my intention is to refute the belief of my opponent in a universal salvation. The very foundation of universalism is the belief of a universal atonement, and therefore if I can demonstrate that Christ did not die for every single person who ever lived but rather for a particular group of people, Universalist would no longer have a basis for their position.
Often times, the debate on the extent of the atonement is between Calvinists and Arminians. In those debates one of the key points made by the Calvinist(such as myself) is the particularity expressed in scripture of those for whom Christ died. But I am not debating an Arminian, I am debating a Universalist. And I'm sure my opponent would agree that Christ died for a particular people as well. The difference between me and him on this point is that the particular people I am referring to is a group from among mankind, while my opponent is referring to mankind en toto.
In light of that, I will have to take the case for particularity a step further then most usually hear it. Instead of merely pointing out that Christ died for a specific people, I will demonstrate that there are specific characteristics and actions that accompany those who have been atoned for.
I'll start from the place in scripture where the atonement of Christ is mention most extensively. The epistle to the Hebrews.
In Hebrews chapter 7 we have a vitally important description of Jesus as the high priest. In that description we read "read Heb 7:25 ESV"
Notice the description of those whom Christ intercedes for. "..those who draw near to God..". This passage does not only tell us of the particularity of those saved, but also describes them. They draw near to God. This is something that they do. The reason that this is so important to point out is that my opponent wants you to believe that all people will be saved on the basis of Christ death. But this description creates problem when you consider the bible's teaching on the natural state of man. The bible teaches that men are God haters(rom 1:29), not seekers of God(rom 3:11), enemies of God(rom 5:11), they don't do good(rom 3:12) and have no fear of God before their eyes(rom 3:18). That's just the tip of the iceberg. In order for universalism to be true, everyone who ever lived would have to turn from this state and draw near to God. I think we all know that has not been the case thus far.
My opponent may want to say, as he has in his previous debate, that the bible does not say that this is not possible after death. I would like to point out that the burden of proof is on the universalist at this point. Not the other way around. The bible clearly states that those who are saved draw near. The bible also shows that some draw near and some don't. Therefore I am within biblical parameters to conclude that some are saved and some are not. On the other hand, there is nothing in all of scripture that teaches that all men will draw near to God. That point remains to be proven from the universalist camp.
I'll move on to another passage from the same epistle, Hebrews. This time Chpt 10.
Here the context is specifically the once for all sacrifice of Christ. Just as in Chpt 7, the author is drawing a comparison to demonstrate the supremacy of Christ. In Chpt 7 he points out that Christ is a better high priest because he holds his office permanently and therefore is able to forever make intercession for those who draw near. Here in Chpt 10, the writer is seeking to demonstrate how the one time sacrifice of Christ is superior to the continual annual sacrifices of the Levitical law.
In vs one the point is stated that since the law was a shadow of what was to come , the sacrifices made in accordance w/ that law could never perfect those who draw near. The only reason for the writer to say this is if he was going to point out that the sacrifice he was comparing it to was able to this. And that he does. After further discourse on that point the comparison is made in vs 14. "For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified". The only difference in this verse is that the objects receiving the verb 'perfected' are identified as "those being sanctified' rather then " those who draw near". Be we can conclude from the context that the same group is being perfected. Those who are being sanctified are the same ones who draw near and are the beneficiaries of the effects of the atonement. Once again, demonstrating that all of humanity cannot fit this description is a demonstration needless to make. Many have died in open rebellion to God and there is nothing in all of scripture that teaches of an opportunity after that point to draw near.
To avoid belaboring the point, I would like to move my argument in a different direction.
In the Levitical priesthood, on the day of the atonement the high priest was required to to present the sacrifice on behalf of the people who drew near to worship. In the atoning sacrifice two works are carried out simultaneously. One of those works is the actual presenting of the sacrifice. The other, which is done in the same act, is the work of intercession. Both of these works are inseparable. Christ, as the high priest of the new covenant, is responsible to carry out these works. He presents himself as the sacrifice and in that same action he intercedes for those he is presenting himself for. So, there is no way that Christ can intercede for any more or less then those he is giving himself for and visa versa. If Christ intercedes for all then by necessity he dies for all. If only for some then he dies for some.
What's important to note here is that there is clear evidence from scripture that Christ does not intercede for all and that he does not give himself for all. Due to the lack of space I will only be able to provide one example for each, but because of the weight of the argument I believe that they will be suffice.
One of my favorite chapters in all of scripture is John 17 aka the high priestly prayer. Here Jesus is praying to the Father on behalf of his people and it is striking to read the exclusivity of his intercession.
"I am praying for them. I AM NOT PRAYING FOR THE WORLD but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours(vs9).
It's important to notice that Jesus consistently affirms his unity with the Father. Everything that Jesus says he did, he has done only for those the Father has given him. Jesus emphasizes this over and over throughout the prayer. In vs two Jesus specifically says he gives eternal life to those that were given to him by the Father. In other words if the Father has not given them to Jesus, Jesus will not give them eternal life. That's why it's so striking that Jesus not only says
that he does not pray for the world, but he says he prays only for those the Father has given him indicating that the world is not given to Jesus by the Father hence they do not receive eternal life. Also, universalism teaches that all people will receive eternal life, but here, in Jesus's own words(vs 6) the ones the Father gives are from out of the world. So clearly the intercession of Christ is not universal, and since the extent of Christ's intercession and atonement are equal, neither is the atonement.
Lastly we turn to John Chapter 10. The context here is Jesus addressing the Jewish leaders. While using a figure of speech drawn from Jeremiah referring to himself as the good Shepard , Jesus states that he lays down his life for his sheep. The context is clearly soteriological as the we will see in the rest of the dialogue.
So we know that Jesus said he lays down his life specifically for His sheep. Fast forward to a later point in the same conversation and we read this "but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep" (10:26)...read 10:27-28).
Once again we see exclusivity in the words of Jesus. The same group He says he gives Himself for(vs 11 & 15) namely the sheep, he gives eternal life to(vs 28). But in vs 26, we see from the lips of Jesus himself that there are people excluded from this group. Therefore, it follows that if all are not apart of the sheep, than all will not receive eternal life. The means by which Jesus provides eternal life to His sheep is by laying down his life for them. Hence, since the presenting of the sacrifice is not universal, neither is the intercession.
This argument to me presents major problems for the universalist because it doesn't merely point out that Christ died for a particular people, but it specifically excludes other people from that category. On top of that, it does so using Jesus's own words in contexts that are purely soteriological.
The reason I believe universalism is a topic that is worth debating is because I believe it presents an entirely different gospel. There are many ways I can demonstrate this but I wanna focus on one aspect that I've never heard brought up before but I believe is vitally important. That is, the Gospel I believe in is Triune. That is to say it is a message of a salvation accomplished by all three persons of the Godhead as presented in Eph one. A universalist Gospel has a salvation where the 3rd person, the Holy Spirit, is non-essential. That one can be saved apart from the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. The biblical gospel is a message that brings maximum glory to the Triune God. Anything less is not biblical & it is not the Gospel.
In my opening round, I will give a brief over view of Christian Universalism, and will address a few of pro's opening round arguments. I will be more specific and go into greater detail in my second round arguments.
I will be debating as a Christian Universalist. Christian Universalists are Christ centered in that they believe just like orthodox Christianity in the basic tenets of the Christian faith which are:
1. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
2. Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human(The Incarnation).
3. The Bible is the inspired God breathed word of God.
4. There is no way to the Father except through Jesus Christ.
If Universalists didn't believe in the salvation of everyone, they would be considered orthodox Christians.
As far as the Atonement goes, the Calvinist and Universalist understanding of the atonement is exactly the same in that they both believe the blood of Christ will be applied to those it was intended to save. They differ of course in who this group is. The Calvinists believe the blood of Christ is applied to the elect only, and the Universalists believe the blood of Christ will be applied to everyone.
The Calvinists and Universalists can cite scriptures to support their respective views. I contend these scriptures both camps use, are making statements of fact and not necessarily to make doctrinal statements. I will cite a scripture each camp uses to support their respective beliefs:
1. 'Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and give his life a ransom for many' Matthew 20:28(Calvinist support text).
2. 'For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time' 1Timothy 2:5-6(Universalist support text).
Both of these scriptures are of course true, because both scriptures are the word of God. So why pit these scriptures against each other to support limited or universal atonement?
Since Matthew 20:28 says the Son of man gave His life as a ransom for many, my opponent assumes that's all Jesus Christ died for---'many' which for the Calvinist would be the elect. But as I stated earlier, Matthew 20:28 is making a statement of fact, not a statement of exclusion as 1Timothy 2:5-6 points out. This goes for all the scriptures Calvinists use to support limited atonement. The fact is, for every scripture the Calvinists use to support limited atonement, the Universalist can find an equal number to support universal atonement which proves those scriptures Calvinist use are statements of fact, and not statements of exclusion or limitation.
I will now touch on pro's comments concerning Jesus Christ's role as High Priest and John 17:9.
When Jesus Christ prayed that prayer, He had not yet been crucified. He had not as yet ascended to heaven and presented his blood at the altar of the holy place(Hebrews 9:12-26).
So when Jesus Christ was praying for His disciples in John 17:9, He was not yet the High Priest. Jesus Christ was praying for His disciples as their Rabbi, teacher and friend, because Jesus knew His time was short, and He would no longer be with them. So Jesus Christ prayer to the Father was to protect them from evil(John 17:15). So even though Jesus Christ prayer was for His disciples and those given to Him by His Father, Jesus Christ was not excluding the world from redemption. In fact, further on in John 17, Jesus Christ explains why he was praying for His disciples and future believers:
'Neither I pray for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all be one; as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: THAT THE WORLD MAY BELIEVE THAT THOU HAST SENT ME' John 17:20-21.
That scripture if anything says God is not excluding the world from His plan of redemption. Not only does God want to save His elect, God's plan is to save the world:
'And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world' 1John 4:14.
As I stated earlier, I will go into greater details and specifics concerning universal atonement and pro's arguments in the next round.
I will seek to address each of the rj's points in order from first to last.
He starts off by stating that universalism holds to all the basic tenets of the the Christian faith. He says "If Universalists didn't believe in the salvation of everyone, they would be considered orthodox Christians"
The belief in universalism is a soteriological doctrine. That is to say, it is a doctrine that deals with salvation. It is not impossible for one to hold an unorthodox view in one area of Christian faith, while holding orthodox views in other areas. In fact just about every major false religion or cult we know of are right at some point. The intention of the heart and the amount of understanding one has when rejecting an orthodox doctrine makes determining weather one is a heretic or not, not as black and white as some may want it to be.
The problem comes in when you consider the ramifications of a particular belief. Every area of Christian theology is interconnected with other areas. Therefore, in rejecting one biblical teaching(which is what Christian doctrine is) or adding other teachings to it, you will almost always reject other biblical teachings consequently. That's why the statement by my opponent, which I quoted above is too simplistic. Believing everyone will be saved comes with massive ramifications.
One of those I had mentioned at the end of my opening statement, which is the removal of the necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit in the redemption of the elect. Another would be the removal of the connection of saving faith and the salvation of an individual person. Rom 1:16 states that the gospel is the power of God for the salvation of EVERYONE WHO BELIEVES. universalism does not require everyman in this life believe in order to be saved.
I could go on but I believe my point has been made. The universalist may want to say that those ramifications don't apply to them because they do believe that the Holy Spirit regenerates and that people must put faith in Christ in order to be saved. They may want to say that this can happen after death. But as I stated in my first round statement, the burden of proof is on the universalist. Not the other way around.
Moving on, I agree with my opponent that Calvinist and Universalist both believe that the blood of Christ will only be applied to those who it was intended to save. That is the reason I chose to debate the extent of the atonement. That is where I believe the debate lies between the Calvinist and Universalist on this topic.
I do not believe that the debate is to be merely a "my proof text vs your proof text" debate. That is far to simplistic. Not only that, but I believe that all of scripture is consistent with itself. I would never set scripture up against scripture. The one who points to a scripture to refute another scripture is then responsible to harmonize those text with each other or else they'd be accusing the God breathed scripture of error.
Now, I want to address 1Tim 2:5-6 since my opponent brought it up not only in this debate but also in his previous debate with Philochristos. I don't believe that a proper interpretation of this text supports Universalism at all.
In the first verse Paul urges Timothy to make prayers and intercession on behalf of all men. In the very next verse(which is still in the same sentence)Paul specifies what he means by all men. He writes "for kings and all who are in high positions...". So the first verse we see that Paul is not saying that he wants Timothy to pray for all men as in every single person. Rather he wants him to pray for all kinds of men. That would make more sense considering that it would be impossible to pray for every single person individually. If that is what Paul meant, then it would be nonsensical for him to specify all men with types of men such as kings and people in authority, rather then individuals such as Peter and John. In fact it would make no sense to specify at all. All men means every single person. What need would there be to specify? In light of that, we must interpret "all men" in this context according to the way that Paul has defined it for us. Hence, what Paul is saying is that he wants Timothy to pray for all kinds of men because God wants all kinds of men to be save and come to a knowledge of the truth, and that Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all kinds of men.
What is often left out of the equation by Arminians and universalist alike, when dealing with the phrase "all men", is the context in which the phrase was written. The gospel was revolutionary in many ways. One of the reason it cause much controversy among the Jews is because the gospel put Gentiles on equal footing with the Jews. The covenants God made in the past were for the Jews, but now God has called all men to repentance and was showing no favoritism to the Jewish people. Your race and genealogy played no longer played a part in your standing with God. This is often taken for granted by Christians today because we can see how the gospel has brought salvation to people of all races and nationality over time, and even in our very own churches we see this. But in the primitive days of the church, the gospel would be incomplete if it was presented without the emphasis of inclusivism(not to be confused with the belief of inclusivism taught today). The phrase "all men" in the days of the early church would have been understood more as "any man" rather then "every man".
Also, keep in mind that when Paul wrote this letter, the church was under intense persecution from the emperor Nero. So here in 1Tim 2:1-6 it would make sense for Paul to ask Timothy to pray for rulers and people in authority since Christians would be more reluctant to pray for those persecuting them.
But as my space decreases, let me move on.
My opponent said that the verses that people from each camp use to support their argument are not statements of doctrine but statements of fact.
It is true that not every proof text was originally written to teach the doctrine that one uses it to support. But that is simply because the bible is not a theology book. It is a compilation of different genres of writings from poetry to stories to letters. They have different writers from different time periods with different purposes for writing and different messages they are seeking to convey. At the same time, they are God's words and he has his own intention for them. This is known as the Dule authorship of scripture. And since they are God's words, we are to look to them to determine what is true and what is false. Therefore, we don't determine doctrine based on weather or not the bible states it as doctrine. We read the scripture in its historical and grammatical context and extract from it the truths that are revealed.
To say the only way we know what a writing teaches is if it is stated as a doctrine is simply false and I don't even believe RJ believes that. If I write a letter to my wife and tell her numerous times throughout the letter that I love her, it is safe to conclude that I love my wife. I don't need to write "Chris Labianco loves his wife" in order for it to be taught in my letter.
RJ said that Jesus was not yet the High priest when he prayed in John 17 because he had not yet died and ascend into heaven to present his blood at the alter of the holy place. He uses Hebrews 9:12-26 to support this(by the way, this is not a statement of doctrine.lol joke)
It is true that Jesus had not yet presented himself as the sacrifice that would inaugurate the new covenant(Heb 9:15). But the reason that scholars for centuries have regarded this prayer as the high priestly prayer is because Jesus speaks as if he has already completed the work.(see verse 4). He even states that he is no longer in the world in verse 11 and in verse 12 He says "while I WAS with them". He also uses past tense language in vs 6, "revealed" ,vs 8 "knew" & vs 24"to be with me where I am". Because of this, scholars have recognized that Jesus is praying from the realm of eternity. And since interceding from within God's presence is exactly what Christ does today as high priest and considering the sacrificial language used by Jesus in the prayer(as in vs 19), it is safe to conclude that Christ is speaking as High priest.
Apart from that RJ doesn't deal with the content of Jesus's prayer. He states that "even though Jesus Christ prayer was for His disciples and those given to Him by His Father, Jesus Christ was not excluding the world from redemption". That's a hard case to make when you consider what Jesus said in vs 2 when he specifically says he was to give life to all that the Father has given him. He then distinguishes those the Father has given Him from the world in vs 9.
As I stated earlier, if one is going to use scripture to refute scripture, they are required to harmonize them or accuse the scripture of error.
My opponent uses vs 21 to say that Jesus's true intention in praying for the elect is to redeem the rest of the world. But my opponent needs to take into account the numerous ways the bible uses the word kosmos. Their is a great summery on the word kosmos by A.W. Pink that can be found online for free. In that, he demonstrates how there are at least 7 different uses of the word world(kosmos). Instead of employing any of the other 7, RJ employs a meaning for kosmos in vs 21 that would completely contradict the verses that came before it. Consequently, Jesus would be contradicting himself.
As for 1John 4:14, the same refutation would apply. World does not always mean all of mankind. We need to interpret scripture in a way that accommodates everything the bible says. It may take work, but as Christians we must take pains to be as responsible as possible when handling God's holy word.
1. Calvinists believe some Arminian doctrines are false teachings, yet Calvinists still consider Arminians to be a part of the body of Christ.
2. Arminians believe some Calvinist doctrines are false teachings, yet Arminians still consider Calvinists to be a part of the body of Christ.
3. Calvinists and Arminians consider the salvation of all to be a false teaching, therefore Universalists are excluded from the body of Christ.
Calvinists, Arminians, and Universalists all adhere to the basic tenets of the Christian faith. So why should Calvinists and Arminians be any less tolerant of Universalism than they are of each other? The Calvinists and Arminians are in effect saying some false doctrines are allowed in the church and other so called false doctrines are not.
This is why those on the outside of the church do not take the church seriously because of their incoherent and diametrically opposing doctrines. How can those on the outside of the church take the church seriously when the church itself cannot agree on how sinners are saved?
My opponent assumes the salvation of all would remove the necessity of regeneration and saving faith. This is just not true.
Christian Universalist believe the sinner must be regenerated then believe and put faith in Jesus Christ in order to be saved, and that of course is scriptural. But Calvinists and Arminians believe the sinner must be regenerated and put faith in Christ before they die. And since millions of people have already died in unbelief, that alone would make the salvation of everyone impossible. But is this true? Does death end our probation? Is our eternal destiny fixed at the moment of death? Is it too late for unbelievers after they are resurrected, to repent and come to Christ? I know of no such scriptures that say it is too late to repent and come to Christ after one dies. In fact, there are scriptures that tell us unbelievers can repent and come to Christ in the ages or eons to come.
Let's examine the last two chapters of Revelation. Revelation 21:2 describe the Holy City, New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. So we know the holy city New Jerusalem represents the church. The city is absolutely beautiful. The city is garnished with all manner of precious stones. Revelation 22:1-2 says the river of the water of life runs down the middle of the street of the city. The city has twelve gates. Notice what it says about those gates:
'And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there' Revelation 21:25.
So the gates of New Jerusalem(the church) are always open. Revelation 22:14 tells us why the gates are always open:
'Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have right to the tree of life, and that they may enter the city by the gates' Revelation 22:14 Revised Standard Version.
The 'gates' of New Jerusalem remain open for the same reason the 'doors' of the church are open today.
How many times have we heard pastors and ministers at the end of the service say the doors of the church are open. That is an invitation for those who wish to come to Christ to be cleansed from all unrighteousness. Jesus Christ and the future glorified church has a similar invitation---
'And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. AND WHOSOEVER WILL, LET HIM TAKE THE WATER OF LIFE FREELY' Revelation 22:17.
This is an invitation from the Spirit and the completed glorified church[bride]. The water of life of course is Jesus Christ(John 4:12-14). Now who is this invitation for? It's not for the church or body of believers because the Spirit and the bride[the church] are proclaiming this invitation together. Besides, the body of believers are already 'inside' the city where the water of life is and have already taken it. One other point needs to be made here. The Calvinists believe the church is the elect, predestined for salvation, and everyone else is non elect who remain under God's wrath and condemnation.
So if the invitation is not for those inside[the church], the invitation must be for those on the outside---
'Outside are the dogs and the socerers, and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying' Revelation 22:15 New American Standard Bible.
The dogs socerers, immoral persons, murderers, idolaters, liars, etc. are the non elect and of course located in the lake of fire(Rev 21:8).
The invitation of Revelation 22:17 is for those in the lake of fire. God's mercy truly does endure always(Psalm 118:29; Psalm 100:5; 1Chronicles 16:33-34). Revelation 22:17 is an invitation for anyone who is thirsty and wishes to drink from the water of life. There is no expiration date on this invitation, because the gates of New Jerusalem are always open(Revelation 21:25), and God's word endures always(1Peter 1:23-25). As long as there is someone in need of this water, the invitation will continue.
I will now address my opponents objections to the use of the words 'all' and 'world' as used in scripture. I agree with my opponent that the words all and world should be understood in the context to which they are being used. But let's read 1Timothy 2:1-6. There is nothing in the immediate or broader context to limit the meaning of 'praying for all men' and 'Jesus giving Himself a ransom for all' but to mean all men without exception. ChrisL assumes 'for kings and all who are in high positions' limits 'praying and intercession on behalf of all men' without exception. If ChrisL is saying 1Timothy verse two qualifies or limits 1Timothy verse one, then Paul is in effect telling us just to pray for ALL KINGS and ALL WHO ARE IN HIGH POSITIONS, and no one else. What about the common people? That also applies to Jesus Christ being a ransom for all. If ALL KINGS and ALL WHO ARE IN HIGH POSITIONS is a qualifying or limiting statement then Paul is in effect saying Jesus Christ gave Himself a ransom for ALL KINGS and ALL WHO ARE IN HIGH POSITIONS, and no one else. Paul was simply telling the believers to pray and make intercession on behalf of kings and others in high positions because the ruling Romans were persecuting Christians at that time. Paul was not excluding anyone else from being prayed for. Of course it is impossible to pray for every single person individually by name. But God does know everyone by name. For instance, when the earthquake in Hati occured, ministers and pastors told their congregations to pray for all the inhabitants, not by name of course, but in general.
It's the same with the word world. Once again context determines it's meaning. When the word world is used in a narrative in the Bible, we expect world to be limited in meaning. When Caesar Augustus decreed that all the world be taxed in Luke 2:1, we of course know Luke was not talking about every single individual in the world. The narrative itself tell us who the world is in this case. Luke was talking about the world of the Roman Empire being taxed.
Now let's revisit John chapter 17. My opponent says there are 7 different uses of the word world( kosmos) in scripture. So world does not always mean all mankind as my previous comments point out.
Now let's read John 17:16---'They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world'. This scripture make a distinction between believers and the world. Since Calvinist believe believers are elect and everyone else is non elect, the world here is referring to the non elect. The non elect in this case would be the 6th definition of world(kosmos)---'the ungodly multitude; the whole mass of men alienated from God, and therefore hostile to the cause of Christ' Blue Letter Bible Lexicon. So when Jesus says the world may believe the Father sent Him, Jesus is referring to the ungodly multitude, and the whole mass of men alienated from God believing the Father sent Him.
My oppenent claims John chapter 17 supports limited atonement. But I believe John chapter 17 teaches no such thing. In fact John chapter 17 tells us both the elect and non elect are included in God's plan of redemption(Universal atonement).
In closing, there are no scriptures that say there is no hope of repentance after death. I will close with this scripture that shows the universal scope of the atonement:
'For in Him all things were created, both IN THE HEAVENS AND ON EARTH, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--ALL THINGS HAVE BEEN CREATED THROUGH HIM AND FOR HIM' Colossians 1:16 New American Standard Bible.
Now let's read verses 19 and 20:
'For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him TO RECONCILE ALL THINGS TO HIMSELF, having made peace through the blood of His cross: through Him, I say, WHETHER THINGS ON EARTH OR THINGS IN HEAVEN' Colossians 1:20 New American Standard Bible.
Atonement means reconciliation. Colossians 1:16 gives the context for understanding verse 20. All things that were created by Jesus Christ are the all things reconciled to God. Thanks and Blessings.
Thank you RJ.
You are right that I say Universalism is false. But I reject Arminianism to the same degree. They both present false gospels, and on that basis, I reject them both.
Embracing an Arminian as a brother in Christ does not negate my dismissal of the arminian position. Arminianism is a false position. But why one holds to a false position is what's going to determine if they are truly in Christ or not. Some hold to false teaching simply because it's what they have heard over and over, and so it becomes a tradition. Apart from God's grace these people will never see the truth. But their not accepting that teaching as a means of rebelling against God. It's just what they been taught.That's why I'd consider them a brother. But some embrace false teaching as a reaction to their rebellion against God . They decide they don't want to believe in what they know to be true, and consequently use false teaching to replace truth. These I would regard apostates.
The problem is it is impossible for a human to read the hearts of men and determine whether they're rebelling against God or not. Thats just not something that a mere man can do. Because of that, Calvinist embrace Arminians (in general)as brothers who are in need of grace and understanding in the area of soteriology. And we should do the same to Christian Universalist who believe as you do. I know I do. Universalist catch more heat, but that's due to the fact that eternal punishment is a biblical tradition amongst both camps. As I said, it's not so black and white.
I never said that vs two in 1Tim 2 qualifies of limits verse one. What I said was that vs two specifies what Paul means by all men in vs one. My point was that when Paul asked Timothy to pray for all men, we can see what he meant by 'all men' in his reference to kinds of men. He specifies 'all men' with kinds of men. Think about it. How would Timothy pray for all men in general and then pray for two specific categories of men? What need would there be to pray for all men generally and then pray for kings? Are not kings and those in authority covered in the general prayer?
Also, your example about the pastors in Haiti actually help make one of my points. When those pastors prayed for the families in Haiti, they were prying for kinds of people. Specifically the Haitian kind who had been affected by the current events. They were not praying for every single Haitian, but specifically for the Haitians that were affected.
My opponent says there is no scriptures that say there is no hope after death for salvation. There is also no scriptures that say the apostle Peter didn't ware Air Jordan sneakers. But would anyone take someone seriously if someone present that argument? Of course not. The burden of proof rest on the one who is making the claim. The bible clearly teaches, as I have demonstrated, that some posses the distinct characteristics and properties said of the ones for who Christ died. Clearly, only those will receive eternal life. Some have died without possessing those properties and characteristics. So I have a biblical basis for believing some are not saved. Universalist are the ones who are saying something different and so it is on them to prove it from scripture.
My opponent appeals to Colossians 1:20. This is obviously one of the most cited proof text used amongst universalist. Unfortunately for them, and my opponent, the chapter doesn't stop there. The next 3 verses say this :
"And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach- if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister".
Paul goes back to the point he was building up to in vs 14 which was that the Colossian Christians were once under the dominion of darkness and alienated and hostile in mind. But these are all said as past tense characteristics. Then, Paul says they were reconciled by means of his death, which has to be the same reconciliation mentioned in vs 20 since both are done through Christ's' death. The accomplishment of that reconciliation is evident. The Colossians have been changed. They are now presented holy and blameless and beyond reproach. They have faith and have placed their hope in the gospel. They are no longer hostile in mind. This is the result of the reconciliation.
But this is not what we see from every single person who lives. Many, unfortunately, die hostile in mind to God. Therefore, Col 1:20 needs to be interpreted in a way where we don't set Paul's words in vs 20 up against Paul's words in verses 21-23.
But of course my opponent will want to say that universalist do believe that everyone will be changed by the work of Christ on the cross. But for some it does not take place until after death. Which is where he has already alluded to and so to that we now turn.
I knew it would boil down to this, which is why I sought to draw it out by addressing it in my opening statement. Post death conversion. You see, Christian Universalism will always fail under scrutiny in light of scripture. There simply isn't any way for the universalist to explain the vast difference between the believer and the unbeliever. The difference between those Jesus prays for and those he doesn't pray for. The ones who Jesus calls his sheep and gives eternal life to and those he does not. The distinction between the saved and the unsaved, the sheep and the non sheep is found all through out the New Testament, and there's a reason for that. The person and work of Christ and the message that proclaims Him (gospel)was intended to transform those who believed it. God is in the business of sanctifying his people and setting them apart for his purpose. So what does the universalist do when presented with these facts. They appeal to a post death conversion.
This truly is the fundamental assumption of Universalism. But I don't believe that this assumption stems from the conclusion of a systematic study of scripture. I believe it is the necessary assumption stemming from a commitment to an underlying presupposition, namely, everyone will be saved. What I mean is, Universalism is not a conclusion from studying the bible. It is the starting point. And the belief that some can be saved after you die is the piece that holds the whole system together. If you remove that piece, the whole system crumbles. And to that I'm sure even my opponent would agree.
But as RJ has displayed thus far, he is concerned about what the bible says and I certainly respect that. He has laid out a case from revelations 21 & 22attempting to uphold that very piece. I believe that his case falls apart at two points. Lets take a look.
First, RJ makes the case that the gates of the church are opened using Rev 21:25. He states that they are left open because of an invitation that will be made to the members of a group outside the gates described as dogs, immoral people, & idolaters (among other things)in Rev 22:15. The invitation is said to be made in vs 17.
The problem is that a similar group, in fact I believe it's the same group, is excluded in vs 27 in Chpt 21. 2 vs after the gates being left open were mentioned. Lets read "and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life."
Once again we see that distinction I was mentioning. The scripture clearly excludes the ones practicing abomination and lying from the ones who's names are written in the book of life. Also, it says no unclean thing will come into the gates and it would be hard to show that the description of the group in 22:15 could be anything other then unclean. In 21:27 those who practice lies are distinguished from those who's names are in the book of life and it says they will not come into the city. But the group in 22:15 is said to love practicing lying.
You see, once again my opponent has set up scripture against itself within verses of each other.
Also, the invitation in 22:17 is made not to unbelievers in the millennial kingdom. It's made to the reader of the writings. This is indicated by vs 18. "I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book..."
This understanding does not set vs 17 up against21:27 and flows much better when you continue reading Chpt 22.
1. About 1Tim 2:1-6, you implied that what Paul was charging Timothy to do was pray for all men in general in vs 1. We know that in verse two Paul adds to pray for Kings and ALL who are in authority.
1. Is Paul asking Timothy to pray for kings and all in authority individually, as in each an every member of the government one by one. Or in General?
2. And if in general, would that not mean that Paul was asking Timothy to pray for a kind of men?
3. In John 17:16, I agree with you that the word 'world' there refers to the ungodly multitude. But you assert that 'world' has the same meaning in vs 21. Considering the consistent distinguishing by Jesus between the world and those the Father has given, and also considering that Jesus said he only gives eternal life to and prays for those the father has given him(vs2 & vs 9), wouldn't applying the same meaning of kosmos in vs 16 to kosmos in vs 21 set Jesus up against himself?
4. You never got around to addressing John chapter 10. Can you explain how one who is not a sheep can receive eternal life, considering vs 27 where Jesus explicitly identifies the people he was addressing as not being sheep?
Because of Adam's disobedience, Calvinist believe all mankind is in bondage to sin and corruption, do not seek after God and are naturally hostile to the gospel message. This is called total depravity to which I agree with. According to Calvinism, God through His grace, mercy and good pleasure, elects some of fallen mankind to salvation by demonstrating His saving grace and mercy to them. He witholds saving grace, and mercy to the rest of mankind, and leaves them under His eternal wrath and condemnation. The Calvinists are in effect saying God has divided mankind into two groups: The elect who were predestined to salvation, and the non elect who by default were predestined to eternal condemnation. This part, I of course do not agree with. So when the Calvinists come across scriptures that seem to point to universal atonement and the salvation of all, they point to other verses that limit their meaning, when in reality, those scriptures are just making factual statements. I will cite two scriptures as an example:
'For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Him self, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven' Colossians 1:19-20 NASB.
I touched on this scripture in the previous round. Colossians 1:19-20 is a universal statement because Colossians 1:16 gives us the context of who Paul had in mind to be reconciled. In verse 16, Paul says Jesus Christ created all things in heaven and on earth. That is the context for Colossians 1:20. All things created in heaven and on earth, are the all things to be reconciled to God.
But my opponent says the next three verses limit the universal statement of Colossians 1:20. Verses 21-23 are simply making factual statements to the believing Colossians. Those believers were once hostile toward God and alienated from God, but now they are reconciled to God. Where in Colossians is Paul excluding anyone else from being reconciled to God?
There is no mention in Colossians of death stopping God from reconciling all things in heaven and on earth to Himself. Colossians 1:19-20 clearly says THE FATHER RECONCILES ALL THINGS IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH TO HIMSELF. My opponent's comment 'Many unfortunately die hostile in mind to God' is simply commentary by him to turn Colossians 1:19-20 into an exclusionary scripture by limiting those who are to be reconciled.
'So then as through one transgression THERE RESULTED CONDEMNATION TO ALL MEN, even so through one act of righteousness THERE RESULTED JUSTIFICATION OF LIFE TO ALL MEN' Romans 5:18 NASB.
Notice the grammatical structure of this scripture. This scripture is making two universal statements, with a comma separating the statements. The first statement is the context for the second statement. In other words, the first statement determines the scope of the second statement. Who are the 'all men' who came under condemnation? That would be all descendants of Adam. That is the context of who will be justified. The 'all men' who were condemned because of Adam's transgression, are the 'all men' who will be justified because of Christ's righteousness. My opponent will say verse 17 is what limits the scope of those who are to be justified, and that would be those who have received the abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, which for Calvinists is the elect or the church. But once again verse 17 is not limiting those who will be justified. Verse 17 is simply making the factual statement that the elect have received the abundance of grace and are to be justified, not at the exclusion of the reminder of Adam's descendants. Besides the condemnation and justification of 'all men' is passive. In other words, we did not choose to be born under condemnation, we just were. Like wise our justification was passive. It was Adam's transgression that condemned mankind(passive), And it will be Jesus Christ righteousness that will justify mankind(passive).
Because of the character limit, I could have many listed more scriptures that support the salvation of all.
My opponent says the burden proof is on me to show post mortem repentance or salvation in scripture.
Death does not stop God from saving anyone. The Bible does teach salvation after death. Let's look at the prodigal son again. The prodigal son was lost(dead) first, then after wards he was found(made alive again Luke 15:24 and 32). Those who are cast into the lake of fire are lost or spiritually dead in sin(total depravity) just like the prodigal son. When will they be found? Remember, 'the Son of man came to seek and to save the lost' Luke 19:10. Besides death is a prerequisite for salvation or being made alive----'The last enemy that will be abolished is death' 1Corinthians 15:26 NASB. And how exactly will death be abolished? The Bible makes it perfectly clear how death is to be abolished in that same chapter of 1Corinthians:
'For as in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. BUT EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN ORDER' 1Corinthians 15:26.
Jesus Christ will abolish death by making everyone alive. With everyone made alive, death no longer exists Death is not qualified in 1Corinthians 15:26. That means death, whether it's physical death, spiritual death, or the second death, death in all forms is to be abolished. Death is what separates man from God. with death abolished, there is no longer any separation between God and man. The result---Reconciliation. God can now become All in all.
But my opponent believes those who are to be cast into the lake of fire will remain dead in their sins forever. That's 'eternal death'.
If eternal death and eternal torment are true, then death claims a huge victory over millions possibly billions of sentient beings in the lake of fire, since they remain dead in their sins forever. If eternal death and eternal torment are true then The Consummation(1Corinthians 15:22-55) ceases to have any real meaning. But The Consummation make it perfectly clear that sin and death are not victorious in God's universe. The wages and sting of sin is death and 'death is swallowed up in victory' 1Corinthians 15:54-55. Thus Paul taunts the defeated power with the rhetorical question 'O Death, where is your victory? O Death, where is your sting?' Verse 55. If God's revealed will to save all is frustrated in one instance, If God's revealed will to reconcile all is frustrated in one instance, If God's revealed will to become All in all is frustrated in even one instance because of sin and death, then death can truthfully answer--------'HERE I AM, MY VICTORY IS RIGHT HERE IN THE LAKE OF FIRE'. But Paul's question is rhetorical and there is not supposed to be an answer. There should be complete silence since death has been abolished and no longer exist.
No my friend, death does not stop God from saving the sinner.
My opponent claims the invitation of Revelation 22:17 is not to unbelievers in the Millennial Kingdom, but to the readers of the writings. Once again, my opponent is trying to turn a factual statement into a limiting statement. Of course the invitation of revelation 22:17 is for the readers of the writings. The 'readers of the writings' are a part of the 'whosoever' or 'whoever' depending on which translation you are reading. ChrisL is trying to limit the 'whosoever' or 'whoever' to just the readers of the writings at the exclusion of 'anyone' else. Whosoever or whoever are not exclusionary words.
Revelation 22:17 says the Spirit and the 'bride'. That's futuristic language The present church is not yet the bride. The bride is the completed glorified church. That mean the number of the elect has been gathered completed and sealed. Since you believe the elect are the only ones redeemed and the elect along with the Spirit is making the invitation, the invitation to take the water of life must be for the non elect. The present church is denying the water of life inside New Jerusalem to the very people the invitation was meant for.
You're probably wondering if universal atonement and the salvation of all is true, how will God save those on the 'outside' who are still dead in sin and still resisting and rejecting God and His word? God will save them the same way He saved us. We forget that we too were once unbelievers, unclean, and liars, and murderers and could not enter the kingdom of God in that condition. Yet God in His love grace and mercy saw fit to save us. God did this by destroying our old nature and giving us a new nature(Regeneration). So if universal atonement and the salvation of all is true, then God will destroy the old nature of those in the lake of fire and give them a new nature.
Romans 10:9 says you must confess and believe Jesus is Lord in order to be saved. The Bible says there will come a time when everyone will do just that:
'For it is written, As I live says the Lord, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD' Romans 14:11 NASB.
If everyone is worshiping and praising God, the conditions of repentance, faith/belief, and confessing Jesus Christ as Lord have been met by everyone.
I can only think of one question at this moment.
1. You believe those who are cast into the lake of fire will remain dead in their sins forever--eternal death.
How can death be eternal when the Bible says death will be abolished(1Corinthians 15:26)?
Thanks, and Blessings.
In response to your question
(Question)1. You believe those who are cast into the lake of fire will remain dead in their sins forever--eternal death.
How can death be eternal when the Bible says death will be abolished(1Corinthians 15:26)?
(My response) The context of 1Cor 15 is resurrection of the physical body from corporeal death. The mistake you make with your interpretation of this section of scriptures is you assume that death is not qualified in the context. But it clearly is. The discussion starts off at vs 12 talking about Christ being raised from the dead. Surly you are not going to say that Christ died in any other way other then physically. From that point onward Paul is talking about the same kind of death that Christ was raised from. So everything we read onward in this same dissertation about death or being raised from the dead must be interpreted in a way that flows from the context. Therefore everything you have said regarding this passage really needs to be rethought because when you interpret vs 26 in light of the whole context, it says nothing you have said it teaches. I will say to you with all due respect(I truly mean that), that the only reason you see the passage saying what you believe it says is because you took a presupposition and read it into the text. As I stated earlier, universalist start with the belief that all will be saved and then they read the text through that lens. My friend, that is not how we handle the word of God.
Let me turn to something RJ said in the beginning of his last rebuttal. "So when the Calvinists come across scriptures that seem to point to universal atonement and the salvation of all, they point to other verses that limit their meaning, when in reality, those scriptures are just making factual statements."
A few things I wanna respond to.
1st- It is not that I point to other passages to limit anything that the scriptures teach. What I have sought to do was take the passages that my opponent has presented and interpreted them in light of their context. All the of these passages (Col 1:19-20, 1Tim 2:1-6, Rev 22:17,ect.) don't exist in isolation. They have a context. And context, in all literature, defines the meaning of the text. What I've sought to point out to my esteemed opponent, is that his interpretation of these verses are in opposition with what the author has wrote immediately before and or after it. Sometimes at the expense of putting the author or speaker up against himself within a few verses of each other. That should be a good indicator that the interpretation is wrong.
2nd, I thought that RJ had dropped the whole" those are not doctrinal statements, they are only factual statements" argument. The way that RJ should have been responding to my critiques of his proof texts is by demonstrating from the context that the writer was teaching what he(RJ) said it was teaching. But we have not got any of that. Instead my opponent has simply said that I've turned to factual statements to limit(what I assume he would say are) doctrinal statements. I don't believe my opponent, or anyone for that matter, could walk through these sections verse by verse an tie it into the whole of the writing, and demonstrate that they were teaching universalism. The reality is that all of scripture is factual and when we study scripture we are to formulate doctrine in light of what the facts are. There are many doctrines that my opponent believes, including the trinity, that are not explicitly stated. He needs to be consistent.
About Col 1:19-20. My opponent says I am using vs 21-23 to limit the universal statement of vs 20. Once again, I've only sought to demonstrate that scripture defines scripture. And what we find is that Paul expounds on the reconciliation of men in verses 21-23. He does not tell us what is meant by reconciliation regarding anything else such as trees, or animals, but he does about man. He tells us his death reconciled them from a prior wicked state, and the reason was to present them holy and blames before God. He also says they possessed faith and had their hope in the gospel(which must have came by means of the reconciliation , because prior to that they were alienated from God & hostile in mind). We know this is the result of all who have been reconciled to God by the cross because to say that this was only for the Colossians would be a stretch.
So the only hope for universalism to be true is if this can happen in the after life. And from the looks of it my opponent agrees. So in order for my opponent to use this verse to support universalism, he must first prove post death conversion. Post death conversion cannot be assumed on the basis of these passages because they only tell us about the changed nature of those reconciled. What my opponent does is assume that when Paul says "reconcile all things to himself" in vs 20, he means all things individually as in every singly thing rather then in general as in all kinds of things. Then when he reads vs 21-23 and sees the description of the men reconciled, he assumes post death conversions to be true in order to keep his interpretation of vs 20. That is assuming what he set out to prove.
I will not be responding to Romans 5 due to the fact that I would not have adequate space to present a solid defense. I would love to respond to it, but I just would have the space. In RJs defense, I failed to state 'no new arguments' in the challenge. The error was innocent.
I was disappointed to see such a horrible display of eisegesis by a man as smart and honest and RJ.
He appeals to the story of the prodigal's son and specifically references the terms 'lost' and 'dead'. He then points out that those in the lake of fire are lost and dead(in sin). He concludes by saying that since the son returned home and was therefore found, those in the lake of fire will also be found.
For one, the story of the prodigal's son and those in the lake of fire are not related at all.
Two, the words lost and dead are not found in any of the text with those in the lake of fire.
And three, the story of the prodigal's son is not primarily soteriological. It had to do with Jesus's acceptance off all who repented. It was one of three parables He told to the Pharisees in response to their grumbling over him eating with sinners. Not to mention that the ones in his stories repented. You still have to show me where the bible teaches that all will repent. I haven't seen that anywhere.
Luke 19:10 is another one where my opponent is reading his presupposition into the text. His wrong interpretation of the text would be avoided if he just examined all that the text said. Lets read it, "And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." "
RJ is not allowing vs 9 to interpret vs 10. Jesus first identifies Zaccheus as a son of Abraham. What does this mean? Well first, we must recognize that the bible tells us that salvation came to Zaccheus's home. But then we read why. It's because he was a son of Abraham. Then we read that Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If we stay within the context, we'd have to allow vs 9 to tell us what Jesus meant in vs 10. Jesus came to seek and save the sons of Abraham.
This is significant because the bible tells us who the true sons of Abraham are in Gal 3:7 "Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham."
Letting all of scripture speak is a vital part to biblical interpretation.
Rom 14:11 is not the best text to try and make the point my opponent was trying to make. The context here is believers not judging one another over disputable matters because all of us will have to stand before God and give an account of himself before God.
But to be fare the same passage is used differently by Paul in Philippians 2. But still even there the context is not soteriological. It is Christological. The point is that after Jesus humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, the Father exalts him to his rightful place of supremacy, where he is Lord over all.
Rj still wants to argue that Rev 22:17 is an invitation to those outside the gate in vs 15. This is a good example of what we have seen through this entire debate. Instead of showing how his interpretation of 22:17 can work with the rest of the surrounding context(specifically Rev 21:27), RJ simply affirms his interpretation is right and that I'm only appealing to "factual statements" to limit the Universal invitation to come. Even if that were true, does not Rev 21:27 specifically say no one who practices lying shall enter the gates? And does not Rev 22:15 say that members of the group outside the gate were liers? So how could the liers in vs 15 be included in the invitation? Rj's interpretation of 22:17 turns the text on it's head and it's hard for me to understand why my opponent can't see that.
What I said about my understanding off 22:17 was that it was written in conclusion to all that was written before it. John caped off his writing with an invitation to his readers to come the Jesus. Of course that invitation to come is to be made to all me. But this particular invitation was made to the readers.
'For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive[G2227 zoopoieo]. BUT EVERY MAN IN HIS OWN ORDER' 1Corinthians 15:22-23.
The Greek word for made alive is zoopoieo which means---'by spiritual power to arouse and invigorate, of the spirit, quickening as respects the spirit, endued with new and greater powers of life' Blue Letter Bible Lexicon.
If Paul wanted 1Corinthians 15:22-23 to refer to just the physical resurrection of the body, he would have used the Greek word anastasis[G386] as it is used in John 5:28-29. The all that died in Adam are the same all that shall be made alive, quickened or given spiritual life. So if everyman has been given spiritual life or quickened, then 1Corinthians 15:22-23 supports the salvation of everyone and that is not a presupposition.
As for the Bible making factual statements of course it does. Every verse in the Bible is a factual statement. Neither one of us should try to read our theology into those factual statement. Rather, we should build our theology around those factual statements.
As for Colossians 1:19-20 Paul is stating in verses 21-23 that the Colossian believers were once enemies, hostile and estranged from God, but now they have been reconciled. Paul is not excluding anyone else from being reconciled. Also there is no time limit specified on when God will reconcile all things. God most certainly can accomplish His purpose to reconcile all things either before or after a person dies.
The invitation of Revelation 22:17 as I pointed out in the previous round makes a very strong case that unbelievers who die and are resurrected can repent and come to Christ, hence post mortem repentance and salvation. Here are the indications from scripture:
1. There is no expiration date on the invitation of Revelation 22:17 because the gates of New Jerusalem are always open(Revelation 21:25) and the water of life is inside the city(Revelation 22:1-2).
2. Revelation 22:17 refers to the church as the bride. The bride is future tense language.The church at present, is not yet the bride. That means the invitaton of Revelation 22:17 is also being proclaimed in the ages or eons to come.
3. People in the coming ages or eons who are on the outside of the city are washing their robes and entering the city through the gates. That is why the gates are always open.
Finally, the present church, that's us as believers, forget that we too were once unbelievers, impure, immoral unclean, murderers, adulterers, idolaters, etc. who were outside the church and the kingdom of God. But God through His love grace, mercy and good pleasure regenerated us and cleansed or washed us from the filth of unrighteousness.
Why do we want to deny unbelievers in the next age God's love, grace and mercy? If unbelievers remain condemned forever in the lake of fire, then the Spirit and the bride is proclaiming the invitation of Revelation 22:17 to no one.
No my friend, death will not stop God from redeeming all reconciling all, and God becoming All in all.
Yes the prodigal son is a parable. Luke describe the prodigal as being dead in Luke 15:24 and verse 32. I was just trying to show you that the prodigal son being dead did not stop the son from being found. 1Corinthians 15:26 says death is to be abolished. With death the last enemy finally abolished and no longer in existence, God can become All in all.
You keep telling me I haven't shown where the Bible teaches that all willl repent. But I have shown you scriptures in the previous rounds that indicate post mortem repentance and salvation. I've shown you Revelation Chapters 21 and 22 where the gates of New Jerusalem are always open for those on the outside to enter and the invitation for whosoever to come take the water of life. and also Romans 14:11. There are many more scriptures that indicate the salvation of all, but it is too late to post new arguments. So I will go over Romans 14:11 one more time:
'For it is written, As I live says the Lord, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME , AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD' Romans 14:11 NASB.
This scripture says everyone is worshiping and giving praise to God. You and I agree that salvation it the work of God from start to finish. It is God who grants us repentance, it is God who regenerates us, it is God who gives us faith, and of course it is God who justifies, sanctifies and glorifies us. And it is God who assures us that we will persevere in faith to the end. This of course is called perseverance of the saints or the eternal security of the believer. So it is God who makes sure that we as believers meet the conditions of repenting, confessing and putting faith in Jesus Christ. So if everyone is worshiping and giving praise to God, God has worked out salvation in everyone, and the conditions of repenting confessing and putting faith have been met by everyone.
The Bible does say Jesus came to save the Sons of Abraham and the lost sheep of Israel. But we must remember the call of repentance and salvation eventually went out to the gentiles when Jesus told His disciples to teach all nations(Matthew 28:18-20). Luke 19:5-7 describes Zacchaeus as a sinner, and we know Jesus Christ came to save sinners(1Timothy 1:15). Since everyone is a sinner, everyone was lost. So Luke 19:5-7 is the context for Luke 19:10. Here's how the English Standard Version States Luke 19:10---'For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost'. There's no distinction made in that verse about who the lost that are to be saved. There is no distinction made between the lost sheep of Israel and the gentiles. Jesus Christ came to save the lost, Jew and gentile alike. Jesus Christ will save the Sons of Abraham, but Jesus Christ is most certainly not excluding the gentiles from being saved.
I will now answer my opponents four questions: To save character limit, space, and time, I will not repost the question. I will just give the answers in the same order that the question were stated.
My answer to ChrisL's 1st question---I believe Paul was charging Timothy to pray for kings and all in authority in general just as he charged Timothy to pray for all men in general in verse 1.
My answer to ChrisL's 2nd question---Here's an analogy: If Mr. Brown said everyone in his class stood and recited the pledge of allegiance does Mr. Brown have to name each student specifically to verify that his whole class stood and recited the pledge of allegiance? Of course not. We naturally conclude Mr. Browns general statement includes his whole class. So if the all men in 1Timothy 2:1 is referring to all men individually, the praying for all men in general does not have to be qualified by naming each individual specifically.
My answer to ChrisL's 3rd question---I'm don't quite understand my opponent's 3rd question, but I will try to answer it the best that I can. I see no conflict between the world in John 17:16 as opposed to the world in John 17:21. The world in both verses is the world believers were taken out of. That makes the world in both verses the ungodly multitude. The world in verse 16 that believes are taken out of, is the same world in verse 21 that Jesus Christ wants to believe in Him.
My answer to ChrisL's 4th question---Only believers in this age receive eternal life. Eternal(aionios) life is not referring to the duration of the life, but rather the source and quality of the life. We as believers get to have a personal relationship with God now---'And this is eternal life, that they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent' John 17:3 NASB. Eternal life is knowing God and having a personal relationship with Him. not about duration. Believers living forever is not contingent on eternal(aionios) life. Believers and everyone else will live forever because they will have been made alive[G2227 zoopoieo] and will have put on immortality[G110 athanasia] at The Consummation(1Corinthians 15:22-28; 1Corinthians 15:53-55).
Thanks and blessings.
I want to first hit a few quick points on the statements my opponent made in his previous rebuttal.
Rj says 1Cor 15 is talking about more then physical death because the Greek word _0;Q79;_9;`0;_9;_3;_1;_2;^2;`3;_9;_7;`4;^5;_3; (zoopoieo) means "'by spiritual power to arouse and invigorate, of the spirit, quickening as respects the spirit, endued with new and greater powers of life" according to blue letter bible lexicon.
Well I took the liberty to look up every usage of that word in the NT(there is only 12)and I found that the latter half of blue letter's definition does no apply once. I encourage anyone to look it up for themselves. The term is always used to mean 'revive' or 'to make alive' without reference to what is being revived or brought to life. That's where the context comes into play.
That's another point I'd like to make. In every language, words are always defined by their context. Greek is no different. We must take into account what the original author meant when he used a specific word. We don't use every word the same way all the time and neither did the biblical writers.
Also, even if my opponent's definition of _0;Q79;_9;`0;_9;_3;_1;_2;^2;`3;_9;_7;`4;^5;_3; was right and vs 22 did mean made alive in a sense more then corporeal, it still does not prove to be a universal statement because vs 23 qualifies the 2nd use of the word all in vs 22. "Those who belong to Christ". But ultimately there is no way for my opponent to fit his definition of death into the context. The whole point Paul is making is that since Christ was raised from the dead, so will we. There is no reason for Paul to use the example of Christ being raised from the dead when the only way that Christ did that was from physical death. If Paul meant more by death for us, then Christ was a horrible example.
Moving on, I never said that the Gentiles were excluded from those who Christ came to save in Luke 19:10. My point was that Jesus said that Zeccheus was a son of Abraham and that is why salvation came to him. But the NT defines what a child of Abraham is in Gal 3:7. It is not one of a particular race, but actually those who have faith. And not everyone has faith universally. That was my point.
One of the things that will be clear for all the viewers of this debate to see is the complete disregard for allowing the context to define words and phrases, on my opponents part. In just about every passage brought up in this debate my opponents interpretation went up against the immediate surrounding text.
We seen it in John 17. My opponent wants the word Kosmos(World)to mean the same thing in vs 16 & 21. But that would contradict what Jesus had said just a few sentences earlier.
We seen it in Col 1:19-20. Rj wants the reconciliation of all things in vs 20 to mean every single person universally. But in the proceeding 3 verses the author himself describes certain properties of the ones reconciled and it's clear that many have died not possessing those properties. We'll get to the post death stuff in a minute.
We seen it in Rev 22:17. Rj wants that invitation to go out to everyone, even those who the text specifically says will not enter the gate in Rev 21:27. I have waited for a response to this but have gotten none.Rj says liars and those practicing abomination will enter the gates. But the bible says they won't, only those who's named are written in the Lambs book of life.
What I hope everyone who reads this debate will come away with, is a recognition of the importance of interpreting the text in light of it's context. Allowing the bible to define it's own terms and phrases and not standing on interpretations of certain text that go against what the author was actually saying. Making factual or doctrinal statements about the bible, requires more then proof texts. It requires careful examination of the text in light of it's immediate context and also in light of the bible as a whole. It may take more work, but when your handling the words of life, it's worth every bit of the work put in. And that work is our responsibility as the people of God.
So in the end, my opponent hangs his universalist hat on the hook of post death conversion. I've already stated that the burden of proof rest on my opponent. There is no reason to believe that anyone will be saved after this life. I noted earlier my conviction that this belief is only a result of an underlying presupposition. It is not derived from a careful examination of the bible and I don't believe my opponent has provided us with anything that can convince us otherwise.As we've seen, he uses Rev 21 &22 and Col 1:19-20 to make his case. As I've pointed out, both of those text, when properly interpreted, teach no such thing. My opponent's interpretation has turned those text on their head. There is no reason for me or anyone else to see this position as anything more then wishful thinking.
My friends, it is so important that strive and make every effort possible to derive all of our theological beliefs and traditions from the text of scripture. I will admit that from the natural standpoint of man's thinking, universalism sounds nice. I can see why so many would want it to be true. I personally have lost loved ones who did not believe in Christ before they passed. I would love to know that they will have another chance to believe and eventually they will believe and be saved. But when I read the bible I have to settle with the reality that that is not the case.
Our # 1 concern should be what is God's desire. If it is God's desire that he is glorified by the eternal salvation of the elect and the eternal punishment of the reprobate, as mere creatures we must come to grips with that. It may bother us and it may not sit well with us when we consider our own personal circumstances, but we must recognize that our God is a holy God. He is not like us nor are we like him. Our dislike of any of his ways is only a reflection of our fallen nature, and it is something we ought to be in prayer for repentance from.
The bible is to be the bedrock of every statement presumed to be true about God. It is to be our solace in an age where wickedness and lies are honored and esteemed. The study of scripture is not only a responsibility of the scholar. It is the responsibility of every single person who professes faith in Christ. Every statement made that has to do with God or scripture is by it's very nature, theological. And ones theology dictates ones living. Sadly many do not see the truth in that statement. It is unfortunate that the skill of studying the bible has been thrown under the table in evangelical churches today. It is viewed as something non essential. Something, good but unnecessary. Many times I've heard it said, "just read the bible"! "Get multiple chapters done at a time". "Don't read commentaries, the Holy Spirit is our commentary". And that very teaching has become a plague that has infected the body of Christ. Many well meaning Christians hold to sub-biblical teachings that bring bondage and misguidance to their life, or to the lives of other, simply because they do not know how to study the bible.
I mention this because I believe that too many Christians do not know how to respond to positions such as the one my opponents holds to. And it's a shame. So much sub-biblical and anti-biblical teachings in the church can be avoided if bible STUDY was taken seriously. Although I do believe my opponent cares about what the bible says, I do not believe he has handled the text responsibly. I attribute that the the movement in the church today that has gone away from equating bible study with hard work. I am convinced that if Rj did a thorough verse by verse study of the books he has used verses from, he would never be able to find a place to fit universal salvation in. And that's my point in all this. It's not enough to say " we must derive our beliefs from the bible"! Me and Rj both believe we are doing that. Rather,what we need to be saying is " we must derive our beliefs from a faithful and honest scrutinization of the bible". That is the only way we can truly know what the bible teaches. Then, and only then, can we make proper application to our lives.
I truly hope you have enjoyed reading this debate as much as I have enjoyed engaging in it. I want to thank my wonderful opponent rjohnson741 for his kind & cordial manner and his thought provoking statements throughout. It's been an honor. I hope that all who read this would not allow it to be the deciding factor, but rather a tool to use for guidance in the study of this very important topic. This has been a long debate and if you have read this far I commend you for taking the time to read this. It's good to know that there are people out there that care as much about these issues as I do. Thank you all and God bless.
The scriptures about Jesus Christ saving His elect and Jesus Christ saving everyone are both making statements of fact. For example: If a news caster interviewed two people who were rescued by firemen from a burning building, does that exclude anyone else from being rescued from the burning building? Of course not. It is a fact that the two people and anyone else in the building were rescued from the fire. It is a fact that the elect will be redeemed in this age(The Church Age) and the non elect will be redeemed in the ages or eons to come: EVERYMAN IN HIS OWN ORDER(1Corinthians 15:22-23), and TO BE TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME(1Timothy 2:3-6).
Jesus Christ was raised from more than just physical death. Remember, Jesus was born human, flesh and blood. And Jesus was raised in a spiritual body. Jesus was the firstborn from the dead(1Corinthians 15:20), in that He was the first one to put on immortality. So Jesus Christ is the perfect example of how we are to be raised from the dead. Everyone will be made alive(zoopoieo) in their own order.
As for Jesus Christ saving the lost, Jesus Christ came to seek and to save the lost. He started with the Sons of Abraham, and he commissioned His disciples to preached the gospel to the gentiles as well as the Jews. Jesus Christ, along with His elect will continue to seek the lost in the ages or eons to come.
Colossians 1:20 needs very little commentary, or exegesis. Colossians 1:16 is the context for who will be reconciled. Colossians 1:16 says Jesus Christ created all things in heaven and on earth.
Colossians 1:20 says the same all things created in heaven and on earth are to be reconciled by God.
To deny the clear meaning of Colossians 1:16-20 is to deny what is right in front of your eyes.
Revelation Chaprers 21 and 22 clearly show us that unbelievers can repent and come to Christ after they are resurrected:
1. The invitatiion by the Spirit and the bride is for anyone who wishes to take the water of life(Revelation 22:17).
2. There is no expiration date on this invitation because the gates of New Jerusalem are always open, just as the doors of the present church are always open for sinners and unbelievers.
3. The bride in Revelation 22:17 is the church or the elect of God. Calvinists believe only the elect are redeemed and everyone else is non elect and remain under condemnation. Since the Spirit and the bride[elect] are proclaiming the invitation of Revelation 22:17 together, the invitation must be for the non elect.
4. The non elect are on the outside and they are described as adulterers, sorcerers, idolaters, murderers, etc. They are not being denied entrance into the city, because the gates are always open and they are being invited in by the Spirit and the bride. The reason they remain outside because they are unclean(Revelation 21:27). Here's how they can become pure--'Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter the city by the gates' Revelation 22:14 NASB.
We as Christians forget that we too were once unbelievers, unclean, adulterers, murderers, idolaters, etc. We could not enter the kingdom of God in that condition(1Corinthians 6:9). But God lead us to repentance, regenerated us, and we put faith in Christ. And we confessed Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. This was God's grace or unmerited favor towards us. Why are we denying God's grace and mercy to others? Why are we denying God's grace and mercy to those in the lake of fire?
The gates of New Jerusalem are always open. But the church wants to eternally close the gates and deny the invitation of Revelation 22:17 to the very people it was intended for.
Will those in the lake of fire repent and eventually put faith in Christ and enter the gates into the city? If universal atonement is true, they will, seeing that salvation it the work of God. Revelation 5:13 makes it clear that everyone will eventually give worship, praise and glory to God.
In closing, I believe the Calvinist understanding of the atonement is correct and scriptural, in that God will redeem those for whom Jesus Christ died. But they don't take it to it's logical conclusion. The Calvinist believe the blood of Christ is sufficient to save everyone but it is intended only for His sheep, His church or His elect. They draw this conclusion from the scriptures I mentioned earlier, Matthew 1:21, Ephesians 5:25, John 10:15, and a host of other scriptures. I ask the viewers of this debate to read those scriptures objectively and tell me where in those scriptures does it exclude anybody else from being saved or redeemed? Those scriptures are simply stating the elect will be saved. And of course I can show you a host scriptures that point to universal atonement, Romans 5:18, Colossians 1:20, 1Corinthians 15:22-23 being a few of them. They too are making factual statements.
I would like to thank ChrisL for starting this debate. And I would like to commend him for his cordial, and respectful manner in which he presented his arguments. For those who viewed this debate, I hope you learned something no matter which side of the debate you are on. Whether I win, lose, or tie, I really enjoyed the debate.
Thank you and God bless you all.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Geogeer 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Excellent debate. It is my opinion that pro made the better arguments.
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