Universal Salvation

For to this end we toil and strive, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe. (1Ti 4:10)

I saw this verse as the defense for Universal Reconciliationist. This version is from the ESV Bible. The ISV comes out like this:

To this end we work hard and struggle, because we have set our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, that is, of those who believe. (1Ti 4:10)

ISV goes a step farther to specify that the all people is really only those who believe. The majority of the translations seem to follow along the same lines as the ESV though.  You can see why there might be some confusion on what it means.

Personally, I think Jesus died for the sins of all mankind and is the Savior to all people. That is not to say that all people have salvation though.

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his unique Son so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but have eternal life. For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe has already been condemned, because he has not believed in the name of God’s unique Son.

(Joh 3:16-18)

Jesus is very clear on the matter of salvation. It is offered to all, but only received by those who believe.

This is contrary to the Universal Reconciliationist as well as the modern spiritual movement. You see Oprah and many others stating there are multiple ways to Heaven, not just through Jesus. This is a problem with trying to reconcile the message of God to social views. You will get a man based view of God instead of who He says He is. When we reason God into something we can understand and something that aligns with our beliefs, He is no longer God. Instead the person is worshipping a man based creation which happens to look like a more holy version of themselves.

It is true that God loves all people, but not all people will be saved. That is their choice.

Cultural Christians

I have been struggling with the Christian lifestyle for awhile now. Not a faith issue or if I still consider myself a Christian, but how do I act like a Christian when I object to the actions of mainstream Christians. Even if you were not a Christian all of your life, there is so much that is seen as being Christian in every day society. That is because in America and sadly elsewhere, Christianity is more of a cultural thing instead of a relational thing.

Culture has various meanings, but when talking about a group of people, it is basically the shared beliefs, practices and attitudes that characterizes people. Cultural Christians, have similar beliefs, practices, and attitudes but they are lacking the relationship with God. These people are good people. In fact, that is something that draws them together. Everyone wants to be good and if presented with the choice of heaven or hell, how many people in their right mind are going to say “Hell please”? The Bible tells us what is expected to be good and if it doesn’t cover it, they can always make something up. They follow the attitudes of the group and jump on whatever band wagon is currently being pushed. All of this to belong to the group.

When is someone taught to follow the voice of God? Do people still believe that He speaks today? I often wonder if people think He is absent in our day to day lives. With the exception of the Bible of course. But does God only speak through the Bible? That is one of many issues that separates Christians into the various denominations.

We see the cultural Christians moving in society trying to conform this world to reflect the kingdom of God. They do it through laws and peer pressure. We have Sarah Palin trying to be the voice of the people looking for a more decent world. That isn’t biblical, but it is a cultural Christian move. Glenn Beck tells people how they should act and think in order to be Christian and he is not even a Christian. It is a cultural movement that is appealing to cultural Christians. It takes on the same role and uses the same methods as the Pharisees did hoping to make people holy without the relationship with God. That didn’t work then and won’t work now. So why do it?

They do it because the relationship with God is missing. There is no personal interaction with God so they are left to their own devices to feel holy. I am not saying these people are not saved. When you are saved, a relationship with God begins, but it does not automatically become part of a persons everyday life. When it is missing, the only way they get to feel God is by doing the things of God. Thus, works become the focus of their life. This is why you see so many Christians who’s entire life revolves around their church. They join group after group trying to find the spiritual connection that seems to be alluding them. They volunteer for every church program trying to find the spiritual connection. Buying every new Christian book hoping to find the secret. They keep pouring themselves out wanting to be filled but never find the source. They cant publicly question why it doesn’t seem to be working for them out of fear of being rejected by the group. So they continue following the trappings of cultural Christianity hoping one day that they will be found.

I get still get caught up in parts of this. I will get in a buying spree of buying new books or I will start pushing myself to find some new truth. I try to force the transformation that only the Holy Spirit can accomplish. It is a futile process that only leaves me feeling lacking and wanting. I think the problem is I know that change is coming so I search for that change in order to make it happen. I can not do it on my own, but I try. I get tired and fall back into that relationship, which is what God was wanting in the beginning. I don’t waste as much time doing this as I used to. Thank God for that. It takes time to unlearn the bad habits, but He is patient enough to get me through it.

If you are lacking that spiritual connection or feel like God is missing stop looking for Him. He is always with you and will never leave. People talk about times in a spiritual wilderness, but every wilderness encounter in the Bible had God present during them. Stop and just be with Him. Talk to Him honestly and openly. You cant offend Him or hurt His feelings. You can only enter into relationship with Him.