CARM, short for Christian Apologetics  and Research Mnistry, has a section devoted to
    Universalism. Matt Slick of CARM has written several well studied articles refuting the
    wonderful good news that God plans to save all of humanity.

    I understand his position because it used to be my position. So, not to be fussy, just
    factual, I have made my own rebuttal to his points.  I decided when I first found the
    message of reconciliation that if I could refute it, I shouldn't believe it.  I couldn't, so, I
    believe it.

    Matt's first rebuttal is on the passage of scripture in Matthew 25: 46

                                 
                                    Matt. 25:46 and Universalism
                                 "And these will go away into eternal punishment,
                             but the righteous into eternal life". (Matt. 25:46)


    The universalists do not believe in eternal punishment. Universalists teach that all will eventually be
    saved through the atonement of Jesus. Therefore, when the Bible speaks of eternal punishment and
    hell fire, etc, the universalist interprets it to mean an inner sorrow due to loss of reward and/or they
    maintain that the word "eternal" does not mean "without end."
    In Greek, the word "eternal" is the word, or "aionion." This word occurs in two places in Matt. 25:46:
    Let's look at it again in a Greek Interlinear form:

    The exact same word  "aionion" is used to describe the duration of punishment as well as of the life of
    the righteous - those who are saved. The same word describes both conditions. If it means one thing in
    the first part of this sentence, then it means the same thing in the second part since they are both in
    the same context and both are describing time-duration of the states of the unsaved and the saved. If
    the punishment is eternal, then so is the life. Likewise, if, as the universalist says, the punishment is
    not eternal, then neither is the life. You can't pick and choose how the word is applied in this verse to
    suit your own theology.
    But the universalists do just that. They want to have Jesus say that eternal life is forever but eternal
    punishment is not -- even though Jesus used the same word, in the same breath, to describe them
    both. It just doesn't fit their preconceived ideas.
    Let's translate it the universalist way....
    The universalists are fond of translating Bible verses and transliterating a particular word. So, I will use
    their style in the following translation:
    And these will go away into aionion punishment,
    but the righteous into aionion life
    Or, to take a little liberty, it could be translated as,
    And these will go away into non "aionion" punishment,
    but the righteous into "aionion" life."
    I inserted the word "non" here to reflect what the universalists intend the word "aionion" to mean
    when describing punishment -- but not life. Notice it isn't there when describing life because the
    Universalist believes that the life of the righteous is without end: eternal. This is the kind of thing the
    universalist must do in order to justify his position. It is clearly false and demonstrates an intrusion into
    the text of a theological perspective. This is something Jehovah's Witnesses do when they "translated"
    the Bible. They changed words to make them agree with their theology.
    Nevertheless, another translation according to universalist presuppositions might be:
    "And these will go away into non-eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
    But, the universalists state that "aionion" is an age, a period of time that can have a finish. They would
    then answer this objection and say that punishment is for a time and so is life, but that both of these
    are for an "aionion" period and after each period is another. In the case of the aionion punishment, it
    would end and then after that, they would have eternal life. Likewise those possessing eternal life
    already in the aionion "age" will continue to have it in the next age. The only problem is that that isn't
    what the text is saying. Jesus isn't setting up a time duration argument. He is telling us that there is
    eternal life and eternal death.

    My reply:


    There is a very good argument to be made with the Greek word, “Aion” and it‘s Hebrew equivalent
    in the Old Testament, “Owlam”. Both of these words are used to describe time periods that DO
    COME TO AN END. And, they are used to describe God and the things of God. Should the
    examination of these words and their meanings not be sufficient evidence, there is the fact that
    “aionion” is simply an adjective that describes other words. The definition of the word  is not  the
    “all end all“

    To understand the truth about eternal life and eternal punishment we must make a feeble attempt
    to understand the love and the sovereignty of God and His plan for the people He created. Not just
    try to defend what we have always been taught for the truth, especially, when it makes no sense at
    all. Does eternal torment make sense to you?  One other quick note...eternal torment does
    not agree with the rest of scripture.....

    Examples of Owlam and Aion used as time periods and things of God.

    Owlam

    In Exodus, Owlam is translated everlasting:
    Ex 40:15  And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto
    me in the priest's office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout
    their generations.

    In Hebrews, we see the everlasting preisthood was not everlasting. It was changed.
    Hebrews  7:12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the
    law.

    Speaking of God:

    Ge 21:33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD,
    the everlasting God.


    Aion as a time period

    Jude 1:7 says Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving
    themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example,
    suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

    Ezekiel 16:55  When thy sisters, Sodom and her daughters, shall return to their former estate, and
    Samaria and her daughters shall return to their former estate, then thou and thy daughters shall
    return to your former estate.

    This verse uses Aion in two ways. It is used as a time period, because, the eternal fire has long
    since burned out, but, the fire was punishment from God.  It was “aionion” because it was
    temporary and because it was from God. The Aion word is a very versatile word it seems. If I had to
    “fall” on one side or the other of the argument, I would fall on the side that gives God more glory.

    Which would give God more glory? A creation that Christ came to save but remained unsaved or, a
    creation that will eventually turn to Him for salvation?

    This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came
    into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 1 Timothy 1:15


    Matt Slick says…

    The universalists are fond of translating Bible verses and transliterating a particular word. So, I will
    use their style in the following translation:
    And these will go away into aionion punishment,
    but the righteous into aionion life
    Or, to take a little liberty, it could be translated as,

    And these will go away into non "aionion" punishment,
    but the righteous into "aionion" life."

    My reply:

    Matt's last statement shows a lack of understanding of  how the universalists see this verse. Since
    aionion means an undefined period of time, non aionion could very well mean endless. Aion is a
    noun. Aionion or aionios is an adjective. Just like “month” is a noun and “monthly” is an adjective.  
    Aionios can’t mean a time longer than an Aion any more than monthly can mean a time longer than a
    month, if we are strictly using the word “Aion” concerning time.   

    In this passage of scripture that Matt has chosen not only should we determine what is meant by
    "aion" but, equally important,  WHAT "aion" is describing.

    It describes “life” and “punishment”.

    Life

    The life of a believer is said to be eternal/everlasting or aionion life. We know from verses like the
    following two, that eternal/aionion life starts in this life.

    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath
    everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
    John 5:24

    And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou
    hast sent. John 17:3

    Punishment

    The very most important thing to note concerning what we believe about the  punishment of
    people is the purpose for punishment. And, it’s agreement with the rest of the scriptures.

    In this particular passage punishment comes from the Greek word kolasis. Kolasis comes from the
    word Kolazo and it means to “prune” or to cut off  the old so the new will grow.

    I believe Jesus gives us a good example of this in His dealing with the Pharisees in Matthew 23. He
    condemns them to Hell and calls them Children of Hell, asks them, “how can you escape the
    damnation of Hell?” then, tells them, “you won’t see me again UNTIL you say “blessed is He that
    comes in the name of the Lord”.

    Obviously their “AIONION” stay in Hell served the purpose or will serve the purpose of allowing
    them to see the truth about the messiah. It is interesting to notice that these people to whom had
    been given the “oracles” of God had to be brought to the end of themselves the hard way. But,  
    the young woman at the well, who, unlike the pious, self righteous, Pharisees, felt every bit of her
    “unworthiness”, had the messiah walk right up to her a openly declare to her “I AM HE”!

    Not, unlike us today either. We will do as Jesus urged and “lose our life” or be hurt by the second
    death and lose it, being saved so as by fire.

    There are several Greek words that do indicate “endlessness” but the Holy Spirit did not move on
    any of the writers to use them concerning the punishment of human beings. And no wonder, for
    God so LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes on Him
    should not perish but have everlasting life. This Son of God said of Himself,and I, if I be lifted up
    from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32 As Max Lucado so beautifully said it, “no
    wonder they call Him the savior!”

    Matt goes on the say:

    “But, the universalists state that "aionion" is an age, a period of time that can have a finish. They
    would then answer this objection and say that punishment is for a time and so is life, but that both of
    these are for an "aionion" period and after each period is another. In the case of the aionion
    punishment, it would end and then after that, they would have eternal life. Likewise those possessing
    eternal life already in the aionion "age" will continue to have it in the next age. The only problem is
    that that isn't what the text is saying. Jesus isn't setting up a time duration argument. He is telling us
    that there is eternal life and eternal death.

    Eternal death?  So, if death, according to Matt's statement, is endless, how can it be abolished?  
    Death is the last enemy to be defeated. O death, where is your sting? Oh grave,
    where is your victory? If anyone is left burning in the lake of fire or second death endlessly, how
    will death be done away with?


    The universalists have constructed a multi-age scenario to fit their perspective. In so doing, they have
    allowed for the occurrence of salvation after death, another teaching that is unbiblical. Heb. 9:27 says,
    "And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment," (NASB). The
    judgment comes from God and is upon the sinner. The universalist would have some sort of a judgment
    that leads to punishment that ends and then there is eternal salvation in the afterlife. In so teaching,
    they have ignored the translations of countless scholars and adopted those interpretations that agree
    with them in order to suit their theological bias. This is something they do very frequently, and with a
    vengence since they often turn a harsh tone towards those who do not agree with them.
    I hope you can see the inconsistency of translating and interpreting Matt. 25:46 any other way than
    stating that the punishment is eternal as is the life of the righteous.”


    Hebrews 9:27 says that there is judgment after death. I have no disagreement with that at all. I
    believe many will see the Lord for who He is and for their salvation on “judgment day”. God’s
    mercy does not expire…all who call on the Lord will be saved.


    Almost a concession:

    There were some people who were given the knowledge of God but  did not take advantage of it.   
    From what I understand from the Bible, the glory they would have been able to share with Christ, is
    gone. They lost their privilege of  ruling and reigning with Christ in His kingdom. I believe this is
    why the terms “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth” and “outer darkness” are used to
    describe them. Even the apostle Paul, knowing for sure that He was reconciled to God through
    Christ, pressed toward the mark for the prize of the “high calling”…..There is more to eternal life
    than missing the judgment of God. There is the indescribable honor of being one with Him and
    ruling along side of Him. We can’t begin to understand the greatness of this invitation.  No wonder
    people are admonished... "If you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." Even as we are
    reconciled it would be a fearful thing to fall into the hands of our living God.  

    My “almost concession” is in no way agreeing that there is eternal torture for any human being that
    God created. Only, that many privileges will be lost in this life and the next, if we refuse to bow.

    For me to concede to eternal punishment, the punishment would be missing out on ruling and
    reigning with Christ, NOT, burning in some fire pit forever.


Home     The Bible Says      Scary Words      Lake of Fire      Salvation