Three Lessons in Bible Universalism

PART I.

THE CONFLICT BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL

  1. Q.- What is Universalism ?
    A.-Universalism is the faith that the Divine Government will result in a final moral Harmony of the Universe.1 CORINTHIANS 15: 28.
  2. Q.- What is the faith of Universalism with regard to the great conflict now going on between good and evil ?
    A. - That good is essentially stronger than evil; and that every soul must continue the struggle, here and hereafter, until all evil is overcome.-PHILIPPIANS 2: 12-13.
  3. Q.- You are aware that some persons believe that evil is stronger than good, and will cause endless pain and loss to many
    souls; why do you not believe this ?

    A.-Because it is contrary to the character of God; the nature of man; the spiritual and ethical laws of the universe; and the teaching of the Bible.
  4. Q.- Will you refer me to some Bible teaching which implies that good is stronger than evil?
    A.-Yes, the entire Bible both implies and expresses it. In the conflict between good and evil as depicted in the Bible, God stands for all the forces of Good, and His Power and victory are everywhere asserted. -JEREMIAH 32: 17; 2 CHRONICLES 20: 6; PSALM 135: 6; EPHESIANS 3: 20; DANIEL 4: 35; JOB 42: 2; MARK 10: 25-27; PSALM 22: 27.

    In the first book of the Bible the subordination of evil is implied-GENESIS 3 : 15 ; and that God can make it an instrument of good-GENESIS 50: 20; that man, himself, can break the power of evil is implied in the Commandments - Exodus 20 1-17 ; and all through the Old Testament, as in ISAIAH 1 : 16-18. That it is God's purpose to overcome evil is declared in a. multitude of passages, like. ISAIAH 45: 11-13, 22-24 ; 52: 10 55: 10-11 ; 61: 11 ; HEBREWS 8 : 10-12.

    In the New Testament, the essence and inspiration of the teaching is this :-Evil, though formidable, is vulnerable ; it can be, and must be, overcome.-ROMANS 12: 21 ; I TIMOTHY, 2 : 4 The Christ is God's pledge and instrument of our deliverance from evil.-MATTHEW 28: 18-20 ; JOHN 3 : 17, and 17: 2 ; 1 CORINTHIANS 15: 22; LUKE 10 : 17-18 (symbol of the downfall of the kingdom of evil) ; ROMANS 7 : 19-25 (the struggle with evil) ; ROMANS 8 : 1-2 (freedom gained through Christ) ; ROMANS 8 : 20-21 (the whole creation to be delivered) ; ROMANS 8. 31-39 (nothing in this world, or in any world, here or hereafter. can separate us from God's love) ; ROMANS 16: 19-20 (Satan bruised underfoot) 1 CORINTHIANS 15: 25-28. See also--EPHESIANS 1 : 17-23, and 2 : 1-2, and 6 : 10-17; 1 TIMOTHY 1 : 9-10: HEBREWS 2 : 14-15. The Christ's saving work goes on in other worlds,-1 PETER 3 : 18-20, and 4 : 6 ; ROMANS 14: 8-9 ; 1 CORNTHIANS 15: 19; PHILIPPIANS 2 : 10-11; HEBREWS 7 : 25; REVELATION 1 : 18.

  5. Q.-Will you refer me to some Bible teaching that is directly against endless sin and suffering?
    A.-Yes; LAMENTATIONS 3 : 31-33; ISAIAH 57: 16 PSALM 103 : 8-9 ; ROMANS 5 : 20-21, and 8 : 20-21 ; 1 CORINTHIANS 15: 28; REVELATION 22: 3.
  6. Q-But, although God will not cast any soul off, is it not conceivable that a sinful and hardened soul should cast itself off from God, and persevere in wickedness forever, even at the cost of endless suffering?
    A.-No; the Soul cannot escape from God, who is everywhere; God's love is as inexorable as His power is complete ; and the soul is incapable of endless alienation from God.
  7. Q.-Will you prove what you say front the Bible?
    A.-Yes; PSALM 1'39:7-12 ; ISAIAH 45:22-23 ; PSALM 89 : 30-33 ; MICAH 7 : 18-19 ; JOHN 10: 16 ; PHIL 2 : 10-11 GENESIS 1 - 27
  8. Q-What then has the hardened and defiant sinner to learn?
    A.-That it is hopeless to contend against the Almighty (ISAIAH 45 : 9 ; 5 7 : 20-21). Not only can the sinner not escape punishment-he cannot escape repentance. God's love although it always operates by moral influence, is as relentless as a refiner's fire.-MALACHI 3 : 2-3 ; 1 CORINTHIANS 3 : 15.
  9. Q.-Is there any way of escape from God's punishments?
    A.-Yes, one; cease to disobey Him.
  10. Q.-What must we expect so long as we wilfully disobey God?
    A.-Pain, shame and loss.-ROMANS 2 : 8-9; PROVERBS 11 21; ISAIAH 50 : 11 ; and 57: 20-21.
  11. Q.--Will you state God's strict law of retribution, in Bible words
    A.-Yes; GALATIANS 6 : 7.
  12. Q.-Are God's punishments always discriminating and just?
    A.-Yes; so our Saviour teaches.-LUKE 12: 47-48.
  13. Q.-Do we know the purpose for which God has established this strict moral order ever us?
    A.-Yes ; for our highest good.-HEBREWS 12: 10-11; PSALM 119 : 75 ; 62 : 12 ; 19 : 7 and 9-10.

PART II
THE DIVINE FATHERHOOD

  1. Q.-Upon what does the welfare of the human race depend ?
    A .-Upon the character of God.
  2. Q.-Why?
    A.-Because He created us, and established and maintains the laws under which we live. If He is good, nothing is too good to be hoped; if He is evil, nothing is too bad to be feared as the result of His government.
  3. Q.-From what do we learn the character of God?
    A.-From the laws of Nature and Man, from History, Conscience, Experience, and from the Bible.
  4. Q.-In studying the character of God from the Bible, what must we bear in mind?
    A.-We must bear in mind that the Bible is a collection of sacred writings, composed during a period of at least fifteen hundred years, and that it is a progressive revelation, or unfolding of the character of God, growing more complete from Moses to Jesus.
  5. Q.-What are the highest attributes ascribed to God in the Old Testament ?
    A.-Power, Justice and Goodness.
  6. Q.-Will you refer me to some passages which ascribe these attributes to Him ?
        [NOTE:-Only specimen passages can be given-]
    A.-Yes; First, as to Power: He is called the Almighty 48 times in the Old Testament, as in GENESIS 17: 1 ; the Creator 33 times, as in GENESIS 1 : 1, and 1 : 27 ; ISAIAH 45 7 ; JEREMIAH 32: 17.
    Second, as to justice: DEUTERONOMY, 32: 4; PSALM 89: 14; 19: 7; ISAIAH 45: 21.
    Third, as to Goodness: PSALM 145: 9; 100: 5; EXODUS 34: 6-7. (All just punishments are proofs of God's goodness. See PSALM 62: 12.) ISAIAH 54: 7-8; PSALM 99: 8; JEREMIAH 9: 23-24.
  7. Q.- What still higher attributes are ascribed to God in the New Testament?
    A.-Love and Fatherhood.
  8. Q.-Will you refer me to some texts?
    A.-Yes; as to Love: MATTHEW 5: 44-45; John 3 16-17; Romans 5 : 8, and 8 : 38-39; 2 THESSALONIANS 2 : 16; 1 JOHN 4 : 8, 10, and 16.
    As to Fatherhood: God is called Father more than 250 times in the New Testament, Its in MATTHEW 5 : 16; 6 : 6 ; 7 : 11 ; 18: 14; 1 CORINTHIANS 8 : 5-6; EPHESIANS 4 : 4-6.
  9. Q.. -Who is the highest authority on the character of God?
    A.-Our Lord Jesus, the Christ.-JOHN 14: 8-10.
  10. Q.-What does He teach us to call God?
    A.- Our Father, which art in Heaven."-MATTHEW 6 : 9. 
  11. Q.-What, then, is our best symbol of our Heavenly Father?
    A.-A just, wise, loving earthly father.-LUKE 15: 11-32.
  12. Q.-For what purpose does a good earthly father establish rules in his family, and punish infractions of them?
    A.-For the welfare of his family, and the benefit of every member of it.
  13. Q.-Does such a father punish his children out of anger and revenge?
    A.-No; always for their good.
  14. Q.-Does Jesus ever speak of God as acting from motives of revenge, anger or hatred?
    A.-Never. On the contrary, Jesus instructs us to love our enemies, because God does So.-MATTHEW 5 : 43-48.
  15. Q.- What are you authorized to say of God's punishment is ?
    A.-They are proofs of His love. (See HEBREWS 12:
  16. Q.-If God did not punish us, what would we be compelled to say of Him?
    A.-That He did not care for us. Love desires the moral good of its objects, and punishes to eradicate evil. - REVELATION 3 : 19.
  17. Q.-What instruments does God employ in His retributions ?
    A.-The moral laws. They are the laws of nature, of the soul, of the whole universe. They cannot be obeyed with out benefit, or violated with impunity. We are at all times in contact with them. The Living God is acting on us through them at every moment. They constitute the moral atmosphere in which we live and move, and from which we cannot escape.-PROVERBS 15: 3 ; PSALM 139: 1-5; HOSEA 7 : 2 ; HEBREWS 4 : 12-13.

PART III.
THE FINAL RESTORATION.

  1. Q.-You have now read from the Bible certain passages which show that God punishes His erring children with perfect justice, and for the purpose of curing them of their evil dispositions.  You it have also heard the Bible clearly state that God is our Father, and has a Father's spirit and purpose toward us: and that He will not always punish, nor cast us off forever. You believe that, under God's moral discipline. here and hereafter all souls will grow better, until every soul shall, of its own free choice, do what it ought.-MATTHEW 5 : 48.
    But there are passages in the Bible which some believe to teach the endless, hopeless torment of many souls; and you ought to study them, so as to be able to give sound reasons for your deeper faith.
    Take MATTHEW 25: 46.
    This is a judgment pronounced by the lips of Jesus himself, although only reported by S. MATTHEW. Is not this language clear and strong enough to justify a belief in endless, hopeless suffering?
    A.-No; this passage has nothing whatever to do with the future life, nor with the duration of punishment
  2. Q.-Will you give your reasons for this statement*
    A.-Yes; I know that this judgment has nothing to de with the future life, because Jesus himself said so. He said it should take place in that generation, more than eighteen hundred years ago.-MATTHEW 24 : 34 ; 23: 36, and 16: 28 : MARK 13 : 30 : LUKE 21 : 21 : 22
    This judgment was to to take place, not at the end but at The beginning of Christ's kingdom; it was to be a judgment, not of the dead. but of the living; not of individuals, but of nation: and the rewards and punishments of it belong to the sphere of earthly and temporal affairs. There is no reference here to the end of the world, the resurrection, or to the life after death.
  3. Q-But do not the words " eternal punishment" distinctly convey the idea of never-ending suffering?
    A.-No; the word translated " eternal " never by itself means endless or everlasting. The Revisers threw out the word
    " everlasting" as a translation of it (see the Old Version). It is an ethical word, and expresses character, not duration.-
    MATTHEW 19: 16-17 ; JOHN 17: 2-3. "Eternal life" and "eternal punishment" are conditions which we can experience here (see John 3: 36, and 5 : 24-25), and are wholly different from immortal life and punishment. The Bible never speaks of immortal punishment.
    Moreover, the word translated "punishment" here means not torment, but that kind of correction which tends to the improvement of the criminal, (see HEBREWS 12: 7-11). The Bible never speaks of  "endless torments," ` eternal death," or "everlasting damnation." The words "damn " and " damnation " are not to be found in the Revised New Testament. The Revisers threw them out, because they correspond to nothing in the original. The Bible everywhere speaks of just judgments and punishments, but nowhere of endless evil or everlasting pain.
  4. Q.-Will you give other reasons why you are unable to believe in "endless torments"?
    A.-Yes; to hold a soul in immortal pain, hopeless and useless to all eternity, is contrary to the revealed character and purpose of God.
  5. Q.- What, in your former lessons, have you found the revealed character of God to be?
    A.-Ethically Perfect; He is Infinite in Power, Justice, Goodness. Fatherhood and Love.
  6. Q.-And what do you find God's revealed purpose to be?
    A.-The moral welfare and perfection of all His children. ---ISAIAH 57: 16-18; EZEKIEL 33: 71; ISAIAH 45: 22-23; JOHN 3 : 16-19; ACTS 3 : 21 (" Restoration of all things ") ; ROMANS 8 : 20-21 (Read the margin) ; 11 :32-36; 1 TIMOTHY 2 : 3-4; 4 : 10.
  7. Q.-What mighty instrument has God established for the discipline of His children?
    A.-The great law of Retribution, which works in our bodies, minds, consciences, and in the whole universe about us, to reward, punish, admonish, and train us to obedience. -GALATIANS 6 : 7 ; COLOSSIANS 3 : 25 ; ROMANS 2 : 6-12.
  8. Q.- What still mightier instrument does God employ for our moral discipline, inspiration and perfection?
    A.-Our Lord, Jesus, the Christ.- MATTHEW 1 : 21 ; JOHN 1 : 29 ; LURE 19: 10; ACTS 3 : 26; TITUS 2 : 14; 2 CORINTHIANS 5 : 19; HEBREWS 9 : 26; EPHESIANS 2 : 1 ; PHILIPPIANS 3 : 13-14; EPHESIANS 5 : 1.
  9. Q.-Will God's purpose to redeem and ennoble all His children through the Christ, be finally completely accomplished?
    A.-Yes; so Jesus himself says.-JOHN 3 : 35, taken together with 6 : 37-40; 12 : 32 ; 46, 47 ; LUKE 15 : 4 ; taken together with JOHN 10 : 11-16.
    So, also, say the Apostles. -ROMANS 5 : 20-21 ; 8 : 31-39 14: 8-9; 2 CORINTHIANS 5 : 18-19; EPHESIANS 1 : 9-10; PHILIPPIANS 2 : 9-11 ; COLOSSIANS 1 : 19-20 ; 1 TIMOTHY 2 : 5-6 ; HEBREWS 2 : 9 ; 1 JOHN 2 : 2 ; 4 : 14 ; 1 CORINTHIANS 15 : 22-28.
  10. Q.-Believing, then, in the final purification and nobleness of all souls, that -
            "One far-off divine event,
            To which the whole creation moves,"
        what ought to be the fixed purpose of your soul?
    A.-To be a "worker together with God" toward this great consummation, "with all my heart, and with all my soul, and with all my mind." To loyally follow that Son of God, who has declared everlasting war upon ignorance, disease, sin, death, and all that makes man miserable. To fight against all evil, in myself and in others; to take the side of the oppressed against the oppressors; to stand for righteousness and never give up; to "do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with my God."-TITUS 2 : 11-14

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