> The information you provide on Universal salvation is interesting. I
> echo the belief that Christ alone is the sufficient and only means of
> salvation, but would say the the belief in hell is consistent with the
> belief in a loving God, who is also a God of justice. A friend once
> described the belief in universal salvation as 'date rape' to say that
> everyone is compelled to sit at the wedding supper of the Lamb is
> questionable. there is no doubt that everyone WILL acknowledge that
> jesus christ is the Lord, but that does not mean the everyone will be
Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Thank you for taking time to write and address your concerns. Yes, it is only through Jesus that salvation has been made possible and I thank God that you accept and believe that fact.
You say that "the the belief in hell is consistent with the belief in a loving God, who is also a God of justice" and in saying this, you seem to indicate that you believe universal salvation is opposed to this. Universal salvation is not at all opposed to the true Biblical concepts of these things. Which hell are your referring to, the Hebrew "sheol" (which is the same as the Greek "hades"), or "gehenna," or "tartarus, or maybe to what is called the "lake of fire, the second death?" Each of these has a specific Biblical meaning but none of them refer the common, or traditional, concept of a place of unending torment, or torture, and again, universal salvation is in no way opposed to the "true Biblical" meaning of either of these. God is a God of justice. That is undeniable. But what is His justice? Is it infinite punishment for a finite sin, as commonly believed, or is it making things right, balanced, or justified, as satisfaction, retribution, or payment, has been made for the wrong committed? Believers in universal salvation believe in God's justice. They believe in punishment more than most, but NOT that punishment is never ending. It lasts only so long, and is only so severe as to accomplish its purpose, which is reconciliation of humans with God, and humans with humans. (More on this can be found in the articles relating to these subjects on our website. If you wish specifics to read, I can direct you to them)
You wrote, "A friend once described the belief in universal salvation as 'date rape' to say that everyone is compelled to sit at the wedding supper of the Lamb is questionable." It appears that your friend is very ill informed about the doctrine of universal salvation as revealed in the Bible. Believing in universal salvation does NOT MEAN believing that everyone is compelled to sit at the wedding supper of the Lamb. He is confusing salvation with rewards for service. Let me quote a couple of verses that are only half believed by most.
"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach" (1 Tim. 4:10-11)Now let's look at how most people read these verses:
"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of those that [now, i.e. in their physical lifetime] believe. These things command and teach" or,Do you notice something missing in those last two? Left out is the fact upheld by many, many Scriptures, (not just these in 1 Tim) read in context, that "God is the SAVIOUR OF ALL MEN," not just the offerer of salvation to all men. Many people steeped in tradition don't want to read those words! But, this we are to "COMMAND AND TEACH." God is now "SPECIALLY" the Saviour of those that now, i.e. in their physical lifetime, believe, and they will have special blessings and rewards for believing by "faith." But, just as certain, God is the Saviour of "ALL MANKIND" and all will eventually believe by sight. The blessing of being at the "wedding supper of the Lamb" is one of the rewards for those that "now believe." It is through Christ, both head and body, all "ALL" will eventually believe and be saved. Service to others, now and in the future, is another reward of those that "now" believe.
"For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the offerer of salvation to all men, but only of those that [now, i.e. in their physical lifetime] believe. These things command and teach"
Also, in a way, God does compel us through the love of Christ. "For the love of Christ constraineth [compels, controls] us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead" (2 Cor. 5:14)
You also write that "there is no doubt that everyone WILL acknowledge that jesus christ is the Lord, but that does not mean the everyone will be saved." By this is assume you are referring to the passage in Philippians 2:9-11.
"Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."Here it is not forced obedience to confess that Jesus is Lord, but a willing confession (or "profession" as in the Greek). "No man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost" (1 Cor. 12:3)
Also, where the KJV has "at the name of Jesus," the Greek reads "IN the name of Jesus."
"For as in Adam ALL die, even so in Christ shall ALL be made alive" (1 Cor. 15:22).Notice it is the same "ALL" in both cases.
Now, continue reading from that passage 1 Cor. 15:23-28.
"But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all."Here again, are verses which many read only as tradition has interpreted it for them instead of for what the actually say. Notice first that there are three orders of being "made alive" mentioned:
1) Christ the firstfruitsMost people read over the last one, "the end." What end? The end when Christ "shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power," and when the last enemy shall be destroyed, which is death."
2) they that are Christ's at his coming
3) the end
I would like to mention the salvation, or conversion, of the Apostle Paul on the Damascus road in relation to being "forced" into salvation. Was he forced against his will? No! By his seeing the Lord Jesus, that is "by sight," Paul's will became reconciled to the "will of God." Not forced, but willingly submitting to God's will, purpose, and plan.
I hope this helps clear up some misunderstanding you have about the doctrine of universal salvation. If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.