Rejecting A Christless “Universal-ISM”
The following is an excerpt from the book Divine Embrace by Francois du Toit regarding his thoughts on the question of hell and the misuse of the term “universalism” to mean a Christless salvation. (Emphasis ours)
It is so sad that for many years the church had to reduce its message to a heaven or hell theme in order to persuade people into a decision for Christ. The Gospel persuades man what God believes and what God achieved on humanity’s behalf in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
If the Gospel has the power to get people to fall head over heels in love with God and to love their neighbor as much as they love themselves, then this Gospel demands our total attention and emphasis. This automatically frees anyone anyway from the dread of hell or any sense of pending punishment. There is no law against the free expression of the fruit of the spirit. No one can exaggerate love, peace, joy, endurance, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control. Legalism can neither match nor contradict this. There is no law against love! Galatians 2:22,23. The urgency to tell everyone the good news of their redeemed innocence because of the success of the cross and God’s act of kindness in Christ to rescue mankind from an inferior expression of life into the most attractive life possible can never be matched by a fear motive! Paul gives such context to the motivation of ministry when he declares that “the love of Christ constrains us, because we are convinced that one has died for all, therefore all have died!”
Our message is powerful enough to stop people in their tracks with the best news ever! Sin in its every disguise doesn’t have what it takes to even remotely match the attraction and total contentment and appeal of the Christ life!
The truth of our original identity revealed and redeemed in Christ, sets us totally free from every distortion in our minds about the life of our design. We declare the intimate resolve of God and his attraction to engage with the individual in the most personal tangible way possible. The biggest waste is to miss out on one day of fellowship with your Creator.
I am often overwhelmed with the thought of the ultimate extent of the great work of redemption and act of reconciliation that God undertook to rescue the human race. Underestimating this great salvation has always been the biggest sin of the church. The greatest safeguard we can ever give someone against a wasted life is in our message that reveals truth in such a way that every possible excuse we could have to experience distance from God or to continue in any form of sin, guilt, fear or an inferior lifestyle is done away with. In its stead there remains only the wide open arms of Father God longing to embrace the individual and the world into unrestricted friendship. There is enough content in the positive revelation of Christ in you to rid you of a sin consciousness and its dreadful consequence. Our message is not to persuade people that there is no hell, but rather to convince them that Christ suffered the horror of it to liberate us from its dread both in this life and the next. To influence people into making a decision for Christ based on hell is to distract from the truth. The focus and central theme of the Gospel is the revelation of the mystery of man’s inclusion in the death Jesus died and our co-resurrection and joint-position in the Father’s right hand. The liberating truth of the forgiveness of sins and an understanding of their innocence that leads to a tangible intimacy with the living God and spontaneous love for people. God pleads through us to bring people to realize their full inclusion in the Gospel. Let his love in you reveal him to your neighbors and the nations. His love is unthreatened and needs no defense! Col.4:4– This is my prayer request, that I may be able to present this message in the most effective way possible. 4:5– Do not spoil your chance to touch others with the word through a lack of wisdom. Redeem the time by making the most of every opportunity. (Time only finds its relevance in redemption-realities) 4:6–Season your conversation with the revelation of grace. This remains the most attractive and appropriate option to respond in every situation.
The object of New Testament ministry is not in the first place to get people to go to heaven one day! It is the unveiling of the most attractive life possible, the life of our design redeemed again. Now to be enjoyed in an immediate, intimate, daily, constant, conscious feedback encounter with the Living God in Spirit and in truth and undiluted friendship with our fellow man!
He overlooked the times of ignorance and now urges all men everywhere to discover his eternal thoughts about mankind, revealed in Christ, when we were judged in righteousness in one man’s death, and raised in his resurrection as the trophy of justice redeemed! Acts 17:30,31. Having made purification for sins he sat down! His throne authority is established upon our redeemed innocence
The more we declare the integrity of God’s persuasion concerning us demonstrated in his son’s obedience in our favor, the less we have to prompt people to believe, their believing will be most spontaneous! Even our faith is from him! Eph 2:8 Your salvation was a grace thing from start to finish, you had no hand in it; because it is all God’s gift to you… (Mirror Bible) Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God– (RSV)
Paul preached in such a way that many believed! Acts 14:1 Yet he never asked for a show of hands to indicate their ‘decision’ to believe! The more we make an issue of “Now do you believe this? Because if you don’t you’re going to hell!” the more we disguise the very message we’ve just proclaimed!
God’s work of redemption is valid with immediate effect. “The hour all creation was waiting for has come. The son of man is glorified! The single grain of wheat did not abide alone; it fell into the earth and died and bore much fruit!” John 12:23,24. Mankind died in his death and was made alive together with him and raised together with him and is now seated together with him in heavenly places. Every human life is fully and equally represented and justified in one man’s act of righteousness. 2 Cor 5:14,16; Acts 10:28. “Jesus reveals that man pre-existed in God; he defines us. He justified us and also glorified us. He redeemed our innocence and restored the glory we lost in Adam. (Rom 3:23,24; prohoritso, pre defined, like when an architect draws up a detailed plan; kaleo, to surname, identify by name) What further ground can there possibly be to condemn man? In his death he faced our judgment; in his resurrection he declares our innocence; the implications cannot be undone! He now occupies the highest seat of authority as the executive of our redemption in the throne room of God. (See verse 1, also Rom 4:25) Rom 8:30,34 Mirror Translation Jesus is what God believes. If every human life is equally included in God’s economy of grace then man deserves to hear this Gospel more than what any man deserves to be judged.
Our influence in society, regardless of our profession, is determined by our faith and not our job-description; our faith is sourced in Christ, in his perfect work of reconciling a hostile world to himself. While we proclaim the sinful state of humanity we are not proclaiming the gospel, and life changing faith cannot come to the people! This conviction is critical, if we are serious about impacting our world with the proclamation of the Gospel.
It is so sad that we allow the deception of a Christless “universalism” to hijack words like ‘inclusion’ and ‘universal,’ These words powerfully and significantly describe the masterful genius of God when Jesus died humanity’s death! This is the mystery that none of the rulers of this world understood, otherwise they would never have crucified the Lord of glory!
The point is that the gospel is good news for all people because the gospel reveals how fully included they are in Christ by God’s doing; truth is already true before anyone believes it; a diamond doesn’t become a diamond when you discover it, obviously God hid the diamonds and treasures in the earth for man and not from man! That is why we preach with passion, urgency and persuasion in order to awaken every mans mind and instruct every man and present every man perfect in Christ Col 1:28, because the mystery that was hidden for ages and generations is now revealed
We have underestimated the Gospel of Jesus Christ for centuries, because we have adopted an interpretation that robbed us of the true impact of salvation in its relation to life in the here & now on planet earth. We have felt more comfortable with a faith that refers us to a place in heaven one day rather than to see faith as the now & relevant substance of things we always longed for & the evidence of unseen realities around us & within our grasp; the life of our design is redeemed!
Jesus didn’t die 99% or for 99% He died humanity’s death one hundred percent! If Paul had to compromise the last part of verse 14 of 2 Cor 5 , to read: “one died for all therefore only those who follow the prescriptions to qualify, have also died,” then he would have had to change the first half of the verse as well! Only the love of Christ can make a calculation of such enormous proportion! The same all who died in his death were raised together with him! According to the only scripture in the entire OT that refers to the 3rd day resurrection, we are included! “After 2 days God will revive us, on the 3rd day he will raise us up!!” Hos 6:2 When Paul ponders this scripture (he also quotes it in 1 Cor 15:4) he makes one of his most radical discoveries in his gospel; he writes “While we were dead in our sins (before we knew or believed the gospel) God made us alive together with Christ, and raised us (mankind) together with Christ and seated us together with Christ in heavenly places! That is the point of the gospel; what happened to Christ happened to us before anyone but God believed it! We’re not window-shopping here we are gazing into the mirror! For so many years we’ve read 2 Cor 5 verse 17 out of its context! Verse 14 and 16 gives context to verse 17 Therefore the IF cannot be a condition it must be a conclusion otherwise verse 14 also becomes ‘iffy’!!
The gates of hades will not prevail against the testimony of truth; the weapons of our already won warfare tears down every argument and resistance to the knowledge of God; love wins, I can see even the ‘other brother’ awakening to the festive sound!
I suppose I would still have questions if I think about all the contradictions and issues that theology presents us with; but for years now I have determined to go with what I know by revelation concerning his perfect work of redeeming his image in us: to live daily in the full benefit of that and to unveil him in every person I have the privilege to meet; that keeps one pretty busy enjoying him and sharing him! I am addicted to the Philemon 1:6 kind of koinonia! The koinonia (communication) of our faith is ignited by the acknowledging of every good thing that is in us in Christ!
Exploring the extent of his love initiative and where it leads us truly exceeds any limitation or dimension! And we are all in it together! Wow what eternal bliss and glory we participate in! The hubble telescope surely increases our horizon daily, only to realize again and again that we are dealing with measureless dimensions in outer space that reflect in us! That we may be filled with all the fulness of God is a thought that breaks all boundaries, we are fearfully and wonderfully made and equally fearfully and wonderfully redeemed! The whole earth is full of his glory, “and as truly as I live”, says the Lord, “all the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of my glory, even as the waters cover the sea!”
Jesus said: if you believe that I am what the scriptures are all about, then you will discover that you are what I am all about and rivers of living waters will gush out of your innermost being!
The good news unveils the love of God spectacularly! The dimensions of his love exceed any concept we could possibly have of height, length, breadth or depth! The gospel can be underestimated, but never exaggerated! The half could not be told of Solomon’s wisdom and wealth and in Luke 11 Jesus says, “A greater than Solomon is here”! Rev 5:13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
While we argue that all would be OK regardless, we still miss the point! The urgency to communicate this gospel is not compromised thru speculations about the future, but constrained by the revelation of how God’s faith included hostile indifferent mankind in the sacrificial death of Christ, and his triumphant resurrection, when he represented the entire human race; multitudes are living in torment right now because they have never heard the truth of their redemption; what a waste to postpone redemption to life hereafter if it can happen now! How all will eventually discover what they have missed and how they will be ‘judged’ is none of our business anyway; it is our business to live the living epistle to be known and read by all men! And to give everyone within earshot on this planet the opportunity to hear truth that ignites life-changing faith!