Universal Salvation or Calvinism?
Latest change made on 6-20-2007 8:08pm. Please make sure you have the latest document!
This is a healthy debate between 2 Christian brothers. David B. Curtis - a Calvinist and pastor of Berean Bible Church and Richard Wayne Garganta - a teacher of universal salvation. Richard is a theologian, writer, preacher and teacher with a television ministry in Rhode Island. Richard is responding to David Curtis' article on the preterist archive website. Richard's free, complete 3 part course on Understanding Universal Salvation is at RichardWayneGarganta.com.

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David says:
Let's begin with a definition: Universalism is the teaching that God, through the atonement of Jesus, will ultimately bring reconciliation between God and all people throughout history. This reconciliation will occur regardless of whether they have trusted in or rejected Jesus as savoir during their lifetime. As with any doctrine, there are many varieties of universalism. For example, there is the belief in Conditional Immortality, which holds that an opportunity will be given after death for the acceptance of Christ, that acceptance will mean salvation, while rejection will be followed by extinction. There are, however, certain ideas common to every form of universalism: they all view the character of God as animated by sheer benevolence rather than by a holy love.
Richard says:
David admits there are many varieties of "universalism." He is correct. This is true of all beliefs. I do not even like the term universalism because it is confused with the Universalist/Unitarian church in existence today. My teachings on what is inappropriately labeled "universalism" given today's definition would, as far as I know, not be welcomed in Universalist/Unitarian churches today.
[First, see Matthew 15:7-8 and Isaiah 29:13 where God detests forced or phony worship. The worship mentioned in the following verse and elsewhere is genuine because God wouldn't force a worship that is insincere, that would be against his nature] The Bible teaches:
Phil. 2:10-11, "so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, and that includes all who are in heaven, on earth and even in the realm of departed spirits. And every tongue will confess, admit, acknowledge, and express agreement with the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." [similar repeated in Rom. 14:11] 1 Co 12:3, "Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, "Jesus is accursed"; and no one can say, "Jesus is Lord," except by the Holy Spirit." Romans 10:9, "If we confess with the mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in the heart that God has raised him from the dead, we shall be saved." 1 John 4:15, "Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God."
Now it is important to know that Phil. 2:10-11 and Rom. 14:11 are taken from:
Isa 45:23-24, "I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back [will not return unfulfilled], That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance. They will say of Me, 'Only in the LORD are righteousness and strength.' Men will come to Him, And all who were [past tense] angry at Him will be put to shame."
Our ONLY difference on this issue is, I believe God and His Christ are effective enough to save everyone. David believes that either God and His Christ are NOT effective enough to save everyone or they have NO DESIRE or an UNFULFILLED DESIRE to save everyone. David believes that satan was powerful enough to affect everyone throughout time by default in a negative way but God and His Christ are unable or unwilling to affect everyone throughout time in a positive way. In short, David believes that the work of evil and satan is DEALT WITH in some form or fashion but NOT NEGATED, PLUNDERED AND DESTROYED which, I believe, is against a plethora of scripture. Read Mat. 12:29, Mark 3:27 and Luke 11:22 and you will see that to plunder means to TAKE BACK EVERYTHING THAT WAS POSSESSED OR GAINED BY THE ENEMY. If satan gains one, then he has NOT been completely plundered. I will not discuss David's mention of the doctrine of annihilation as I do not subscribe to that teaching.
There is an endless parade of critics of the teaching of universal salvation that try to make it sound like we teach that acceptance of the truth which is Christ or repentance is irrelevant and/or unnecessary and this is simply not true. Everyone MUST and WILL repent! God was not broad-sided by evil - he can fix whatever is broken.
David's statement underlined above is either inaccurate, naive or coming from a doctrinal bias. Clearly David is saying that a God whose character is "holy love" burns people alive forever in flames of torment and a God whose character is "sheer benevolence" saves everyone. Clearly he takes issue with the idea of "sheer benevolence." So do I. The reality is everyone I know that teaches universal salvation, myself included, believes GOD IS LOVE. What is the real point of contention is the definition of Agape Love.
It is most curious that the Apostle Paul was able to define the Agape Love of God by the word 'love.' David feels the need to define something called, "holy love." In my view, this adds the self-righteousness thinking that speaks of 'righteous' anger and 'deserved' torture and punishment that carnal minds love to justify themselves and their doctrines with.
David says:
Belief in universal salvation is almost as old as Christianity itself and may be associated with early Gnostic teachers. The first clearly universalist writings, however, date from the Greek church fathers, most notably Clement of Alexandria, his student Origen, and Gregory of Nyssa. ...... Origen's views were strongly opposed by Augustine of Hippo and were condemned by the Council of Constantinople (A.D. 543). At the Reformation the sect known as Anabaptists adopted this view as regards both men and devils, and John Calvin wrote a tract condemning it.
Richard says:
I will have to edit quotes from David's document for brevity. Again, David is clearly coming from a doctrinal bias. He states universal salvation is "almost as old as Christianity itself." He is incorrect; the teaching of universal salvation goes back to the Garden of Eden. He states the teaching of universal salvation MAY be associated with early Gnostic teachings. May? It is all too common for people with doctrinal differences to somehow relate opposing teaching to some form of Gnosticism. Sorry, David, you will have to do better than association by "remote possibility." Also, David doesn't mention the fact the teaching of universal salvation was the prevailing teaching the first 500 years of the church. Get the complete study proving this. David also needs to do more research on the alleged condemnation of Origen. Any good study of the history will show differing views on that issue. There were councils at that time set up to define heresies that, not only had teachers of universal salvation on them, but don't mention universal salvation as a heresy. Other councils did condemn teachings of universal salvation. But let's not forget that we are talking of CATHOLIC COUNCILS. Does David accept the Papal authority of the Catholic Church? Does David get his doctrine and historical facts from Catholic councils? Is David aware that his teachings on preterism or resurrection are probably amongst the heresies condemned by the very same councils that condemned universal salvation? Sorry David, you can't have your cake and eat it too. You aught to find sources that don't also condemn you as a heretic.
David says:
This doctrine is congenial to human nature. Most unbelievers think that when someone dies they go to heaven. What do people usually say when they lose a loved one? "We know they're in a better place now." This doctrine goes back to what the serpent had to say to our first parents: "Ye shall not surely die." God says that sin leads to death, but we don't want to believe that, we'd rather believe the serpent.
Richard says:
First, I hope I am not dealing with another satan obsessed Christian. We have too many of those now. This is a weak argument that is too easily countered. There are many teachings of "status quo" theology that are very "congenial to human nature." Would David deny John Calvin's famous quote, "whoever shall now contend that it is unjust to put heretics and blasphemers to death will knowingly and willingly incur their very guilt" had a hint of carnality in it?  Would David deny that the "lock them up and throw away the key" mentality is not "congenial" to human nature? Hasn't sinful man burned people alive throughout history? Isn't revenge and holding on to ones anger forever "congenial" to human nature? Ever meet a Calvinist or a child of a Calvinist that wasn't part of the elect? Is the [Arminianism] thinking that, "I love you so much I gave my only Son and if you don't love me back I will burn you alive in literal flames throughout all eternity" congenial to the nature of man or God? Is the [Calvinism] thinking that, "God is so mad at the condition of man he can't or won't get over his anger, but to show he has a good side he will choose to save some and burn the rest throughout all eternity" congenial to the nature of man or God? Let's see:
Of course, a Calvinist might say, "Those scriptures are only for the elect." To that I say, "How convenient!" King David knew something about the differences between the nature of God and man when he said in 1 Chron 21:13 and in 2 Samuel 24:14:
"I am in great and distressing perplexity; let me fall, I pray you, into the hands of the Lord, for very great and many are His mercies; but let me not fall into the hands of man."
David says:
Colossians 1:20 (NKJV) and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. Is Paul teaching universalism, namely, that all creatures will eventually be saved and none will be punished forever? Does this mean that one day God will reconcile to himself all unbelievers who have ever lived and even the devil? I don't think so. What is this verse saying then? Let me try to explain: Colossians 3:10-11 (NKJV)......
Richard says:
Not so fast David - why must you jump from Col. 1:20 to 3:10 to make your point? You switched from apples to oranges. Did you notice I struck out the word "things" in David's text? Everybody - read this carefully:
Go to your complete King James concordance and look up the word "things." In almost every instance you will see a list that says, "NIG" meaning NOT IN GREEK. The word "things" is rarely in the Greek text but we find it all over various translations. So David, why run from Col. 1:20 - let's take a closer look at the actual TEXT and CONTEXT. Remember the word "things" is NOT in the original text:
Col 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Col 1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell;
Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Now, the Greek for "all" means "all, any, every, the whole." So when the Word speaks of all it is speaking of ALL CREATION. The Greek is 'ta panta' meaning "the universe, all creation" and is used repeatedly in these verses. Is this not clear from verse 1:16? If Paul was speaking of Christians only in 1:16 - who are the "invisible" Christians mentioned? You say, "They are in heaven?" Paul had already mentioned heaven. Who are the Christians that are thrones, dominions, principalities or powers? Now, without twisting scripture - lets restate the ORIGINAL TEXT AND CONTEXT:
Col 1:16 For by Christ everybody and everything was created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: everybody and everything was created by Christ, and for Christ:
Col 1:17 And Christ is before everybody and everything, and by Christ everybody and everything is joined together into a whole. [the Greek for 'consist' means to join together parts into a whole]
Col 1:18 And Christ is the head of the body, the church: Christ is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in everybody and everything Christ might have first place and be the highest authority. [the Greek means 'first place, the chief, the highest authority']
Col 1:19 For it pleased the Father that in Christ should all the fullness of creation be permanently housed. [Greek for fullness means 'fullness of creation - all substance' and dwell means to 'house permanently']
Col 1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by Christ to reconcile everybody and everything unto himself; by Christ, I say, whether they be everybody and everything in earth, or everybody and everything in heaven.
So, to get back to David's text - he completely changed the subject to avoid the clear teaching of these verses. He chooses to try to make it sound like the verses above are discussing the differences between Jew or Greek and putting on the new man. Now, I realize there are many more points to discuss, so let's move on. But commit the above textually and contextually correct verses to memory - they are a beautiful description of the Christ. And David, try to keep your debate within proper context.
To finish David's leap into Col. 3 David says:
Colossians 3:10-11 (NKJV) and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all.
Paul is describing Christians as people who have "put on the new man, who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him." Then verse 11 begins with the word "where" to show that what he is about to say is limited in its scope to the sphere of this renewed humanity he was just asking about in verse 10. He says, "Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man; but Christ is all, and in all." Now if you took the sentence" Christ is all and in all" by itself, you might say that it taught universalism: "Christ is all and in all human beings without exception." But we know that is not what he means, because the verse begins with "where" - that is here in the sphere of the church; "here" - in the new humanity that Christ is creating, He is all and in all. This is the way I think we are to understand Colossians 1:20. Look how the paragraph is organized. The scope of verse 15-17 is all creation. The whole universe is in view. And the point is that Christ is preeminent over all creation, because He made it and he holds it all together. But then in verses 18-21, the focus shifts and the scope is no longer the whole universe but the new creation, namely the church. Notice how verse 18 turns from creation to the church: "He is the head of the body, the church." in this context of the church, we read verse 20, that "he will reconcile all things to himself in heaven and on earth." So I think the "all things" in verse 20 should be limited the same way the "all" in 3:11 was limited - to the church.
Richard says:
So David "thinks" this is how the verses should be interpreted? In all fairness, I think David made A point but may have missed THE point. I "think" David is taking the meaning of one verse and superimposing it over another verse to fit his doctrinal view. Col. 1 is CLEARLY giving a wonderful, full description of the Christ listing several things that Christ is, did and does. I think you do scripture a disservice to wrestle that meaning out of Col. 1. Col 1:17 makes clear Christ is making ALL CREATION into a whole BEFORE the church is mentioned. Col 1:19 changes the term 'all' to refer to 'everything that fills space' AFTER the church is mentioned, yet David tries to make it sound like the 'all' is limited to the church. Verse 18 simply lists Christ as the beginning, the firstborn and head of the church. I don't believe Christ is being removed in relation to 'all creation' in verse 18 at all. David is doing what so many of us, myself included, have done - looked at scriptures WITH DOCTRINAL LENSES ON.
ExampleAnother point is this, even if Paul is referring to a selective 'all' - the church - that does NOTHING to disprove universal salvation. Because Paul is teaching 'we are here now' doesn't mean others won't follow or be there later. Isn't the church to multiply, go out to all the world? Haven't we been given the ministry of reconciliation? So even if David is correct, it does NOTHING to disprove universal salvation. How many are the 'all'? How many are, as some prefer, 'the elect?' We are told to pray for ALL men, Christ prayed for THE WORLD to believe, we are told God wants ALL men saved. Do we or did Jesus pray for something that isn't supposed to happen? Is God's will sovereign? David says if any man be in Christ - Christ will be all in all for them as in Col. 3. No problem! I teach that every man WILL accept the Christ EXACTLY like other scriptures teach. ALL the scriptures are true and easily integrated when the reality of Christ is fully realized!
I will say at this point that one doing an objective study of universal salvation MUST, AT THE LEAST, CONCLUDE THAT THE TEACHING IS NOT HERESY OR FALSE. You may consider it a difference of opinion; even the Apostles had those. But, as you will see, you cannot call the teaching heretical or false. There is simply too much scriptural and historical evidence for it. A case in point is the fact Jesus NEVER referred to or taught the hell we define today as the graphic above proves. If that isn't clear to you keep reading or study my free 3 part course on Understanding Universal Salvation.
I regret that now we must descend into what I believe is one of the saddest Christian theological views in existence. You are about to find out how a Calvinist thinks. Some of you may have to fasten your seat belts. Again, to read David's full comments you must read his article mentioned at the beginning of this document.
David says:
So the main presupposition of universalism is that God loves everybody. Does the Bible teach that God loves everybody? NO, it does not! Romans 9:13 (NKJV) As it is written, "Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated." Also Malachi 1:2-3 Some try to twist it by saying that hate doesn't mean hate, but it means to "love less," or "to regard and treat with less favor." Hate is used in this way in several passages:
Luke 14:26 (NKJV) "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." Here hate would have the idea of "to regard with less favor."
Richard says:
David admits the word hate in scripture can mean 'to regard with less favor' but also says people 'twist' the meaning to make it mean something less than common carnal hate. Is Luke 14:26 'twisting' scripture? David is contradictory here and clearly WANTS to justify carnal hate as a trait of God. PEOPLE EMULATE THE GOD THEY DEFINE AND PEOPLE ARE ATTRACTED TO A DEFINITION OF GOD THAT MATCHES THEIR HEART. People who believe God hates like men usually are immature and have undealt with issues. It is always the attempt of carnal man to make a God after man's image.
We speak of hate in our culture in many ways when we don't mean hate. "I hate carrots", I hate commercials", "I hate when that happens." We usually don't mean REAL hate, we are simply revealing a slant one way or the other for one reason or another. So lets add some desperately needed maturity to this discussion.
We can learn much about the correct usage of this word biblically by looking at the synonyms and antonyms. The synonym [similar meaning] for this Greek word hate is 'to refrain, to behave soberly, properly and with self control' [strongs #567 - Examples: (Act 15:20, Act 15:29; 1Th 4:3; 1Th 5:22; 1Ti 4:3; 1Pe 2:11] and the antonyms [opposite meaning] for this Greek word is 'agape love' [strongs #25] and 'to befriend.' [strongs #5368]
A parent may have one child that requires special attention and reinforcement and another child whose behaviors require the parent to ignore the child for a time. To use "Bible speak" without a full Biblical understanding, we could say the parent 'loves' the one and 'hates' the other. Of course, we would not speak in terms of love and hate today regarding this kind of situation. Why? Because proper, mature, balanced understanding from scripture confirms love is at the heart of the parenting of BOTH children. BOTH actions, though different, are nothing but different expressions of love and different methods of meeting the needs of the child. Many parents will even admit to having favorites, but again this does NOT mean they don't love ALL their children.
We need to stop using the Bible to justify our immaturities, carnality, unhealed emotional wounds, prejudices and ignorance.
David continues:
But in the original context of Malachi 1:1-5, loving less hardly fits with the visitation of judgement:
Malachi 1:3-4 (NKJV) But Esau I have hated, And laid waste his mountains and his heritage For the jackals of the wilderness." 4 Even though Edom has said, "We have been impoverished, But we will return and build the desolate places," Thus says the LORD of hosts: "They may build, but I will throw down; They shall be called the Territory of Wickedness, And the people against whom the LORD will have indignation forever.
Richard says:
Any good parent is routinely judging their child. A parent who doesn't is negligent. When it comes to the nature and character of God, the presence of judgment doesn't negate love - it confirms it! Even carnal man's penal system is set up to be punitive AND rehabilitative. Is carnal man more thoughtful than God? How many times did God judge Israel? Yet Paul and the Prophets taught 'all Israel will be saved.' [Rom. 11: 25-26, Isa 45:25] Did God not love Job when he allowed all hell to break loose in his life? God allowed a judgment AND execution to come upon Jesus. Was love absent? Paul was judged by God resulting in a thorn in the flesh that caused him considerable grief. Was love absent? NO! The thorn in the flesh was to HELP PAUL GROW IN GRACE AND HUMILITY. God allowed [Saul] Paul to murder Christians mercilessly. These Christians are what you would call 'the elect', but God allowed a judgment AND execution to come upon them resulting in a brutal loss of life. Was love absent?
A LOVING parent may say, "I don't care how many times Junior rebuilds that tree house, I will tear it down and give him appropriate, necessary punishment. I don't care if it happens 20 times today. I will take his tools and throw them out if necessary."
David, you are thinking CARNALLY. You are looking at the judgments of God solely as punitive, 'justified rage.' You see judgments as a cessation or absence of love. SNAP OUT OF IT!
The judgments of God are A CORRECTION, a SETTING IN ORDER. The judgments of God can be awful to experience - but all to a good end. Your thinking resembles someone that has experienced nothing but abusive, irrational authorities in their life.
Matthew 18 shows judgments used TO BRING REPENTANCE. The church at Corinth had someone that was acting out sexually. Paul told them to 'judge' the situation and THROW HIM OUT. But in 2 Corinthians we see Paul saying, "Mission accomplished - he has repented, take him back quick before he is overwhelmed." The purpose of judgment was to CORRECT, to SET IN ORDER. Today, if the Bible was being written, we would probably say, "Jacob I loved, but with Esau I had to use tough love."
David continues:
"Jacob have I loved." God is sovereign in the exercise of His love. What I mean is that He loves whom he chooses to, God does not love everybody. Now I know that when I say that, people get upset, but it is clearly what the Word of God teaches. He didn't love Esau, that is very clear. Now how will you argue, will you say that He loves everyone but Esau?
Richard says:
David, get over your wounds, heal and be blessed of the Lord!  You are a living example of why King David said in 1 Chron 21:13 and in 2 Samuel 24:14:
"I am in great and distressing perplexity; let me fall, I pray you, into the hands of the Lord, for very great and many are His mercies; but let me not fall into the hands of man."
King David knew something about the judgments of God that you have not yet learned! The term "fall into the hands of" was an Old Testament term for 'experiencing the judgments of' someone. King David PRAYED for the judgments of God because he knew the judgments of God are LOVE based, unlike carnal man's judgments which are punitive and motivated by carnal, "justified" rage, selfish motivation and God only knows what else. I have complete message notes from one of my shows called "Judgment Brings Salvation" on my notes page. Scroll down a little and you can read all the verses that PROVE that God's judgments result in salvation.
David continues with his 'message' to the world:
One of the most popular beliefs of our day is that God loves everybody. But the idea that God loves everybody is a modern belief. The writings of the church fathers, the Reformers or the Puritans will be searched in vain for any such concept. The fact is that the love of God is a truth for the saints only. With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four gospels do we read of the Lord Jesus Christ telling sinners that God loved them. In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God's love is never referred to at all. Does that seem odd to you? But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints, we have a full presentation of the truth:
Hebrews 12:6 (NKJV) For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." God's love is restricted to the members of His own family. If He loves all men, then the distinction and limitation here mentioned is quite meaningless. God only chastens who He loves, which is a reference to believers, the elect.
Richard says:
And let me guess David, you and your family and friends are all part of the 'saints' and 'the elect' of God, right? I have never met anyone that studied Calvinism and said, "I studied Calvinism and am convinced I am not one of the elect." How curious! This area of your theology is so warped I would only suggest you, and anyone else that believes like you, read part one of my 3 part course on Understanding Universal Salvation. Note: In David's comments he went on to show how all doesn't always mean all and world doesn't always mean everyone. In short he has made what is, in my view, a flawed study to "prove" that God hates some and loves others. However, I do agree that SOMETIMES 'all' in the Bible doesn't mean 'all' and SOMETIMES 'the world' doesn't always mean every human that ever lived.
David says:
John 6:33 (NKJV) "For the bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world." He didn't say offers life, but giveth. Gives necessarily implies its acceptance. Does Christ give life to everyone? No, world is here limited to the world of the elect.
Richard says:
Only the "elect?" Luke 3:6, "And all flesh [carnal natures] shall see the salvation of God." Jesus, not speaking to the 'elect Apostles' but speaking to the masses, said, "It is God's work, that you believe on Christ whom the Father has sent." [John 6:29]
While I teach that everyone will accept the Christ, your statement that 'to give' necessitates acceptance is not even logical. First, I do not know how something can 'necessarily imply' something. Think about that. Either way, I can give you $100 and walk away. What you do with it has no bearing on the fact that I gave it to you.
David, have you ever studied the breastplate of the High Priest in the Old Testament? Do you know those REQUIRED stones represented the entire age old science of the zodiac which represented all creation? [Note: this is completely unrelated to modern day astrology] The High Priest [now Christ] was REPRESENTING ALL CREATION. Your theology says, "Yes, Christ was representing all creation but chose not to represent all creation." That is like a lawyer saying, "I represent 100 clients, but will only represent 50." This is one reason I call Calvinism FRACTURED theology.
David says:
So, God does not love everyone, and Christ did not die for everyone, the atonement was limited. Christ died with the intention of saving His elect. He gave His life "for his sheep" (Jn.10:11). To be sure, the value of Christ's person and work is infinite. His death, therefore, was entirely sufficient to atone for all the sins of all the men who ever lived. But of course, it was not designed to do that. We know this, very simply, because His mission, as He defined it, was to save "those whom the Father had given Him" (Jn.6:37-39). Christ died for "His" sheep.
Richard says:
So let me get this straight. You have a mass of starving people in front of you. You have enough food to feed all of them to health, but you say in your "sovereignty" and anger, "I am only going to feed some of them, let the rest starve. Also, the ones that die from starvation, throw them into eternal punishment,flames and torment." Why? Because they didn't eat. Carnal man would consider such an act criminal beyond belief. Does God who gives men conscience have less conscience than man? You can not see a carnal mind set in this theology?
Run, don't walk, and read how I prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that Christ was given EVERYBODY AND EVERYTHING IN CREATION. It is all in part one of my 3 part course. There are way too many scriptures proving this, I will give a few now. Remember - when you see the word 'things' in scripture - chances are it is NOT in the Greek. Watch what happens when you read scripture that is textually and contextually correct. John 17:2, "As You have given Him [Christ] power over all flesh [carnal natures], that He [Christ] should give eternal life to as many as You have given him." Let's see EXACTLY how many, who and what was given to Christ.

See what happens when you read the text without the added word "things"? The added word 'things' in many of those verses CHANGES THE MEANING IN MOST MINDS. There is much more in my 3 part course.
David says:
John 17:9 (NKJV) "I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for those whom You have given Me, for they are Yours. Notice that Christ doesn't pray for the world, but only for His sheep-- the elect.
Richard says:
Notice, like all of us, David sees what he wants to see. From part one of my 3 part course - Jesus prayed for Universal Salvation. John 17:21 [Jesus praying for all believers] "that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me. In verse 23, Jesus prays that the world will know that the Father sent Jesus. Jesus told the masses, "It is God's work, that you believe on Christ whom the Father has sent." [John 6:29]
Regarding your sheep statement, Jesus said: John 10:16 "Other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring; and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd."
David says:
Hebrews 12:6 (NKJV) For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives." God's love is restricted to the members of His own family. If He loves all men, then the distinction and limitation here mentioned is quite meaningless. God only chastens who He loves, which is a reference to believers, the elect.
John 13:1 (NKJV) Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. Jesus loved those who belonged to Him.
Richard says:
Come on David - if I say, "When parents love their children, they chasten them" am I saying that PROVES they do not love others? This verse also says 'every son whom He receives'. Sounds like they were 'sons' before they were 'received as sons.' If I say, "these parents knew they were dying and they loved their children till the end." Does that mean these parents DIDN'T LOVE ANYONE ELSE? Can we please debate using our common sense? You are using 'elastic band' logic to justify your religion.  Also, what about the following:
Now that the above verses have removed the distinction between 'God' and 'Father' in relation to ALL - read the following: David, you could take a lesson from Peter.
David says:
Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45 (NKJV) "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." His life was a ransom, not for all, but for many.
Richard says:
It could easily be explained that the term 'many' was used because not every one at that time was lost. Jesus personally testified to John the Baptist's salvation. God always has a remnant as scripture proves and many had already been ransomed by accepting the Christ. You make much in your document regarding the use of the word 'many' in various verses. But remember David, you said, "scripture doesn't contradict scripture." 1Tim. 2:6, "who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time." It appears you are into the 'paralysis of analysis'. Synonyms for 'all' in that verse mean 'the whole, everyone.'
Remember, it was assumed by all but the most learned Jews that salvation was only for them. Christ's statements about Him being sent to the Jews AT THAT TIME, didn't negate the clear biblical fact the message was to go beyond the Jews later. The book of Acts tells the story of how difficult it was for the message to sink into Jewish minds that salvation was, in fact, for all. There was an evolvement over time in Jewish culture in their understanding of salvation from 'us or many' to 'all'. Jesus gave the message to 'the many' [Jews] and told them to give the message to ALL. While this is another viable explanation, I really think it has more to do with simple word usage.
Many CAN include ALL. For instance I might have ALL of something. You can ask me how many I have and I could respond, "Oh, I have many." Saying many doesn't negate the fact I have all. Is the word 'you' singular or plural? Can't the word 'you' mean one or all? If I say 'many', does that negate the fact I may have 'all'?  No. If I say 'all', does that negate the fact that I have 'many'?  No.
As mentioned elsewhere in this document, there is also the time relation factor. Example: many were saved on the day of Pentecost. Does that mean many more won't be saved at another time? Many were saved when Jesus died, but does that mean many others won't be saved later? When I speak to an individual I may say, "Jesus died for your sins, he came to save you." Does that mean he only came to save one? Proper text, context, balance, full integration of scripture and common sense will go a long way to eliminating confusion.
David says:
Hebrews 9:28 (NKJV) "so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Again, Christ bore the sins of many, not all.
Richard says:
Again, the term 'many' could be used because not every one at that time was lost; many had already accepted the Christ. Concerns over the masses flocking to him was one of the reasons he was crucified. This is just one of many viable explanations for the use of the word 'many'.
Hebrews is a JEWISH book written to JEWS. It was written to the 'many' that were AT THAT TIME awaiting Christ's return. If I was preaching to a large group at that time saying, "We all know the sins of many of us were crucified with Christ" does that PROVE that Christ didn't bear the sins of others? A pastor may preach to a congregation, "Christ bore our sins." Does that PROVE he didn't bear the sins of others? The epistles were sermons written to groups and were appropriately worded.  Again, proper text, context, balance, full integration of scripture and common sense will go a long way to eliminating confusion.
Jesus said in Luke 19:10, "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost." You agree that God's will is sovereign, so the elect can't be lost. If they can be lost, then either they weren't the 'elect', can be 'unelected' and 'reelected' or God's will isn't sovereign. Clearly the 'elect' for Jesus was THE LOST.Also, as food for thought, consider why Luke 19:10 says he came to seek and to save that which WAS lost.
David says:
John 10:24-26 (NKJV) Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, "How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly." 25 Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father's name, they bear witness of Me. 26 "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.
Many today would say, "You're not of my sheep, because you don't believe." But that's not what our Lord said; He said, "You don't believe, because you are not mine, you're not one of my elect." They didn't believe, because they were not appointed to eternal life.
Richard says:
YET! They weren't in the fold YET. Balance your verses with what Jesus said to some of these same Jews. Jesus tells some of the same unrepentant Jews they have the Kingdom of God within themselves and they will see him again after they accept the Lord! Meditate on that. Luke 17:20-21 "Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, He answered the Pharisees and said, The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, 'Look, here it is!' or, 'There it is!' For behold, the kingdom of God is within you."
Matthew 23:37-39 "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! "For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, 'BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'"
David says:
Acts 13:48 (NKJV), "Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed." Notice who it was who believed. The ones who were appointed to eternal life believed. Who appointed them? God! Clearly, the reason that they believed is because they were appointed.
Richard says:
The word predestined was NOT used in this verse, why not? A word study shows the King James definitions of this word translated 'appointed' are: appointed, ordained, addicted, determined and set.
The NASB, known for its excellent literal text, translates the same word as: appointed, designated, determined, devoted, established and set.
So couldn't it be said that those that were already addicted [fixed on] or determined to have eternal life believed, or those already devoted to or established to have eternal life believed, or those that were already set on having eternal life believed?  YES!  And this would fit perfectly. This same verse [v48] shows Gentiles with a mind set already set on [established] and receptive to receive the Word. They were glad and rejoicing! Two verses earlier [v.46] Luke wrote about those whose minds were NOT set on receiving the Word. Many Scholars agree this was NOT a word used when discussing predestination and a mind set or proclivity is what is meant. But I do agree that it is God alone that can open the heart and minds of men, and He will. He said it is his will that all be saved!
I would be remiss if I didn't make mention of the countless scriptures that say things like this: Act 16:29 - 32, "...what must I do to be saved? They said, Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." Act 2:41, "So then, those [3,000] who had received his word were baptized.." There is no mention of predestination in MANY of these verses. Take my 10 second course on predestination!
David says:
Only those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ will receive God's mercy, and only those who God has chosen will believe. God's attributes of wrath and justice will be displayed on the non-elect. God does not love, nor will He save "all" men.
Richard says:
The Jews taught the 2 attributes of God are JUSTICE and MERCY. David, I would suggest to you that those 2 attributes were and remain completely satisfied, fully realized and adequately demonstrated in the sacrifice of Jesus - the Christ. I call on you to stop spraying your religious graffiti all over the true, full Gospel message which is truly "good news that brings great joy to all the people." Luke 2:10. YES, repentance is necessary, YES, Christ must be accepted. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess.
David says:
2 Peter 3:9 (KJV), "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." Clearly, Peter is not saying that God wants to save everybody. Jay Green's Interlinear Bible puts it this way, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to US-ward, not willing that ANY OF US should perish, but that ALL OF US should come to repentance." The "us" referring to the elect.
Richard says:
But David, don't you teach the 'elect' CAN'T perish? Now you say that the 'elect' CAN perish and God is being longsuffering to avoid having the 'elect' perish. How confusing! This is another example of fractured theology. If you believe the 'elect' can perish, why can't you believe the 'non-elect' can be saved? What do you REALLY believe David...or are you unsure?
David says:
To be sure, the value of Christ's person and work is infinite. His death, therefore, was entirely sufficient to atone for all the sins of all the men who ever lived. But of course, it was not designed to do that.
Richard says:
1 John 2:2 (NKJV) And Christ IS the propitiation [atonement, reconciliation] for our sins, and NOT FOR OURS ONLY but also for the whole world. David, please don't tell me you are going to use the Bill Clinton argument saying, "What is IS?"
David says:
This is not teaching that Jesus propitiates for everyone's sins, but that He is the ONLY propitiation that there is. It is not speaking of universal propitiation, but of exclusiveness. In other words, there is no other propitiation other than Jesus Christ.
Richard says:
David, you are confusing again. It appears that what you say the death of Christ was designed for is not what scripture says the death of Christ was designed for. To use your argument, John even makes a distinction in this verse between what you call the 'elect' and the WHOLE WORLD. He says the atonement IS FOR BOTH. No offense, but I think I will take the ultimate designer's word for it - GOD HIMSELF as spoken through the Apostle! Christ IS the propitiation, the atonement, the reconciliation for the WHOLE WORLD. Let's see what David says about this next verse:
1Tim 2:1-6, "First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who will have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time. [Notice - 'between God and MEN', not God and the 'elect']
David says:
Does this teach that God wants all men to be saved?  No!  Again, we must look at the context. Paul says, "Pray for all men, even kings and rulers, because God will save some of them also." "All men" means men of every station in life and racial origin. It is a removal of racial and social distinctions.
Richard says:
I don't believe it! David is pulling out the 'race card' to make his point? That may have worked in the OJ Simpson trial but it won't work here. David, you are trying to sell fried chicken in a health food store.
The word used for God's will in 2 Peter 3:9 and the word used for God's will in 1 Tim. 2:4 covers both the active and passive words for 'will'. These verses prove it is not only God's inner desire but the desire is ACTED ON. Let God's will be done on earth as it is in heaven! Additionally, it is admitted by Greek scholars that when the passive word for will is used IN RELATION TO GOD it is the same as the ACTIVE WILL OF GOD as in Luke 22:42; Heb. 6:17; James 1:18; 2 Peter 3:9, Matthew 11:27; Luke 10:22 and 1 Cor. 12:11. God wants ALL men saved and God's will is SOVEREIGN! It will be done! No man, devil or doctrine can stop it!
David says:
John 12:32 (NKJV) "And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." Are we to take this to mean that God is drawing everyone to Himself? "All peoples" here is used of "people of all races." God is going to draw Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, bond and free. Here we have Greeks who want to see Jesus. What do Gentiles have to do with Christ? He is the Jewish Messiah!
Richard says:
I don't believe it - the race card again! I crossed out peoples because it is not in the original text and many manuscripts has 'all' or 'all things' instead. These gentiles would have been what the Jews called "God fearers" - they believed in the true God and may even have been converted to Judaism later. The reality is, while it wasn't yet time for the message to go to the gentiles, gentiles DID have access by faith - remember the Roman Centurion, the "half-breed" Samaritan women at the well, the Samaritan Leper and the woman Jesus called a dog? Faith was always the key that brought access! But let's move on to more important issues.
David says:
Matthew 25:46 (NKJV) "And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
The original word here translated, "punishment" means: "torment, or suffering inflicted for crime." The noun is only used one other place in the New Testament-- I John 4:18, "Fear hath torment." The verb from which the noun is derived is used twice: Acts 4:21 (NKJV) So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 2 Peter 2:9 (NKJV) then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment. If this word does not teach that the wicked will suffer, no word could express the idea.
Richard says:
Now we get into the heavy stuff. I agree the punishments of God are no picnic, to say the least! I will take this from a Greek dictionary that does NOT have the doctrinal stand of universal salvation. The word 'punishment' is 'Kolasis' and is distinguished from timoria (G5098), another word for punishment, which in Classical Greek has the predominating thought of the vindictive character of the punishment which satisfies the inflicter's sense of outraged justice in defending his own honor or that of the violated law. The word you refer to 'Kolasis', on the other hand, conveys the notion of punishment for the correction and bettering of the offender.
I am going to keep these issues very brief. Let the seeker of truth follow through with the research. More research on this word 'Kolasis' can be found here.
David says:
The word translated "everlasting" Matt 25:46 is the Greek adjective aionios. The New Testament uses this word sixty-six times. Of these, in fifty-one instances it is used of the happiness of the righteous; in two, of God's existence; in six, of the church, the Messiah's kingdom; and in the remaining seven, of the future punishment of the wicked.
If in these seven instances, we attach to the word the idea of limited duration, consistency requires that the same idea of limited duration should be given it in the fifty-one cases of its application to the future glory of the righteous, and the two instances of its application to God's existence, and the six cases of its appropriation to the reign of Messiah and the glory and perpetuity of the church. Both the punishment and the life are designated by the same adjective, "aionios," clearly indicating their equal duration.
Richard says:
Words change over time, dictionaries change over time and language evolves. This particular word 'aionios' [adjective] and 'aion' [noun] is critical to your understanding of scripture. The word means 'age' in the sense of an indefinite period of time but was misinterpreted many times. First, everyone go to their King James Complete Concordance and look up the word 'forever'. You won't find it. You have to look under the words 'for' or 'ever' as SEPARATE words. Why? Because the Greek for what has been translated 'forever' is 'for an age'. As David said, the word 'aionios' is an ADJECTIVE. An adjective MODIFIES something. If I told you about a big building and a big cake - would it occur to you that both would be the same size? NO! Why not? I will let your sense of reason answer that.
'Aionios' should always be interpreted as an 'indefinite period of time'. In short 'aionios' gets its duration from the noun it modifies, just like the word 'big' got it's size from the nouns they modified in my previous example.
David says everything 'aionios' is eternal? Really?
Now, read carefully. ALL OF THESE THINGS HAD BEEN DESCRIBED IN THE BIBLE AS BEING 'AIONIOS'! I will say it again - all of the things above had been described in the Bible as being 'aionios.' Clearly, David has some explaining to do. For certain, 'aionios' does NOT always mean eternal like David opined.
Let's not forget that translators, many times, have doctrinal views themselves and the scriptures we have were translated with a clear doctrinal lens of the interpreters. They had problems "fitting" the words 'aion' and 'aionios' into their meaning. This is why they had to use the following words to interpret 'aion' and 'aionios': I say let's end the confusion once and for all! Let's let the Bible and the history remove the mystery! This is a deep subject requiring research. Here is the most complete word study I have found on 'Aion, Aionios and the companion Hebrew word Olam'. I cannot stress enough to every reader how important this study is to your knowledge and understanding of scripture. The same study is in Microsoft Word format on Universal Salvation University.
Other arguments in your article are so well covered in my 3 part course I will not cut and paste that huge quantity of text. Any one interested can get it any time.

In Closing

We MUST get over this thinking that God was broad-sided by evil. The fall WAS PART OF THE PLAN. God wasn't shocked and forever outraged at it - HE PLANNED IT. The whole plan of salvation was established before the foundations of the world. ALL the works of evil are or will be destroyed and plundered. Plundered means everything that was gained by the enemy is TAKEN BACK. We must start preaching the full gospel, the full good news of the wonderful plan of God and Christ and stop with fractured theologies, a devil that wins, a God who can't or won't fix his creation, a God with anger management issues and a God whose will isn't fulfilled, realized or sovereign.
Like I have stated earlier, one cannot do an objective study of universal salvation without concluding that there is ample scriptural and historical support for the doctrine. Given that, it cannot be considered heretical or false teaching. There is such a thing as an innocent difference of opinion. Even the Apostles had those. But outright condemnation and cries of heresy regarding the teaching of universal salvation is usually nothing more than ignorance, carnality, religiosity, spiritual elitism or traditions of men. The doctrine of universal salvation integrates history with proper context and language. It does a much better job of scriptural integration than status-quo theology. It eliminates much confusion and what scripture calls 'private interpretations.' Let us all continue learning and discussing as we go forward integrating the teachings of universal salvation back into modern day Christianity. - Richard Wayne Garganta

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10 Second Course On Predestination

Rom 8:29-30: "For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." Now ask yourself, does anyone come into existence without the foreknowledge of God? Isn't God all knowing?   GO BACK