It took a St.Paul experience...


#1

I have a confession to make. Though I can easily demonstrate Universal Salvation for all humanity (Speaking from an ontological perspective), the revelation did not come by an emotional need, though it was uncomfortable emotion I had in place the doctrines to support it which still made God just and loving; the revelation did not come out of intellectual need, I could easily refute the universalist position with over 4 years of Bible School and several years of personal study of Christianity since I was 4.

The revelation came in 2004, when my father (pastor of 23 years) had committed what was a well known apostacy, committing heresy by uttering this phrase, “Craig, my son, I am convinced that Jesus is literally the Savior of All Humanity, not one is lost!” Now, I was not on good terms with my father at this time, he had invested unwisely my money in a company idea which fell through, and we had some personal issues which caused some major clashes (even today these personal issues result in a clash from time to time), but something struck me when he said those words. “Craig, would that not be the Best Good News?”

With all the intelligence I had gathered, I knew that there was an urgency to sit down and read the Scriptures. I had to make a strong case against Universalism, my father’s salvation was dependent upon him repenting from this heresy. In the past, it was easy to unpersuade people from universalism because most who came to this revelation had no knowledge of where and why they believed such a case. The difference was, I was head on with a fellow pastor and teacher of the Scriptures who I knew had a very real understanding of who Jesus was and a sincere love for God and His Laws.

I presented my case and the rebuttal came based on the premise of God’s Character and what prompts His mercy and grace to be bestowed upon humanity and the question was presented, “Why do you think this is heresy?” I could not answer the question of why, I had done much study on the early Church and it’s history.

I was quite aware that the 5th Ecumenical Council was supposedly where Universalism was declared anathema and condemned, but historical documents do not show this to be the case. Established by the Roman Emperor Justinian and not the present Pope (he had refused to officiate the council thus it was never a true Ecumenical council), it actually addressed the writings called, “The Three Chapters.” and not universalism. I could not find a valid reason which prompted me to accuse my father of heresy without resorting to erroneous facts and the argumentum ad populum (a reliance that just because many believe it to be true, it must be true).

Turning to God, I decided that what was impossible for me, is possible for God. Whatever I bound on earth is bound in heaven and whatever I loosed on earth is loosed in Heaven. I knew the power of God, I had seen the sick healed, I have cast out demons in His Name, I cared for the poor and homeless, He supplied all my needs. Through various experiences, God had shown me truths which could not come any other way but through His Spirit and this was a time which needed His guidance.

I also became rather disconcerted with God at this point who promised He was not a God of confusion but one of understanding who cared for His Sheep. If 25 years of my father giving up all his life, worldly wealth, to help the homeless and widows while never taking more than what was required causing him and his family to live below poverty line for the most part for their lives for the sake of the Gospel and the betterment of all humanity through God’s Son, Jesus Christ was going to end in my father burning in Hell for all eternity just because he believed God’s love so great that He will forgive all humanity I had some serious second thoughts.

I said, “Lord, I know you are real and you have rewarded my faith in you many times with awesome results.” Tears began to swell my eyes, "That is why this is difficult for me to say this to you: I cannot follow a God of confusion who punitively punishes His Children for believing the best of His Nature. Though it is a possibility my father was deceived, it is also possible my father is telling the truth and I ask you to be very clear in how I should answer my father in why what he has stated is heresy. Nothing is impossible for you, and so I will give you three days to show me the truth with full clarity, because whether right or wrong, without a clear answer, I will never be able to trust You again and I will walk away from you, even if it costs me my own salvation.

Some time passed, and I decided to take the bus that day to work and I couldn’t get this thought out of my head, it preoccupied me until I realized I missed my stop. I got off the bus and found myself in a middle of a empty football field alone.

“God!” I said in anger, “Dear Heavenly Father!” I could hear my voice echo in the snowy streets, “You are not a God of confusion, and I ask you now to remove this thought from me! I cannot live a lie, nor can I follow you any longer if you cannot prove to me the Truth of your Word.” I sobbed. “If you cannot prove to me in two days effectively in my heart your purpose and plan, I will leave you forever and I will choose to live a life for myself.”

That day… I went home and opened the Scriptures to find the appropriate answer. There was no spirit within it, it was black and white with words as foreign as a history book. I had felt neither hopeless or hopeful in reading it. I read from Genesis to Revelation and nothing had any power.

The next day… I woke up refreshed and decided to go back to the Scriptures to find the appropriate answer. What I read filled me with confusion. I read of a sadistic God, one of wanton selfishness who punitively punished those who by any iota missed or misunderstood His instruction. Fire, Brimstone, Death, awaited all mankind except a chosen few who He drew to Himself to repent of their sin and trust in Jesus Christ. A rather ungracious and unloving God who made a flawed people to fail most of the time.

The last day… I woke up and was hesitant to read the Scriptures. I just put it aside for later in the day. I came back to the Scriptures and couldn’t believe my eyes. I read a common sense God who understood the trials and troubles of humanity so He bound us all to disobedience so that He would have mercy on us all; that gifts of grace was bestowed upon humanity and that Jesus was the Savior of all mankind, and not even sin could stand in the way of His Work. Sin and Death are destroyed, and those who believed reigned with Him, and those who did not believe suffered a little through a process of correction which brought them to the same place as those who believed and they too were than raised up! God is love, and He was and is and is to come, all in all.

Then that inner voice which spoke so loud I could hear Him reminded me of His words to me when I was a Child. “I will never leave you or forsake you.” He reminded me of His awesome greatness always coming through for me when I am in need of His Guidance.

My understanding of the revelation of Universal Reconciliation came from the Lord removing the veil from my eyes of human tradition and passed down erroneous understanding and had me trust the Lord for His guidance in which He would never lead me astray.

So although I can present a intellectual proposition in support of the Lord and His Gospel, I recognize that I cannot change anyone’s mind. There are two things which must be present, 1) A heart willing to give up everything to attain the Lord. 2) The Lord to answer your call and sometimes a St.Paul experience on the road to Damascus.


EU Evangelism; lessons from our new friend
#2

Craig,

Thank you for sharing that moving story from your own life. I feel I know you just a little bit better now.


#3

Yes, thank you Craig. :smiley:


#4

Thanks for sharing that, Craig! That’s a good illustration of how dependant we are on God to reveal truth to us. We have nothing to pride ourselves on, for what do we have that was not given to us? Praise God!

Sonia


#5

Yes, what a great testimony!

Although the situation was very different for me, like you, I had no intellectual or emotional need for UR. I don’t think I ever even really realized that there was such a position, and ECT was certainly all I’d ever known (I was aware of annihilationism). One day though, the Holy Spirit just dropped it in my lap. I was looking at something completely unrelated on a natural health website, and someone’s comment directed me to L. Ray Smith’s website. I read and read, and couldn’t believe what I was reading. I remember thinking, wow what a great hope, but this guy’s got to be a nut job; this goes against everything I’ve ever been taught! Then the Holy Spirit reminded me (I don’t remember if it was that day or over the next few days of voracious reading) that; “How many other things do you know now that go against everything you’ve ever been taught?” Ok Lord, I get your point… I spent the next year and a half after that reading and studying all the angles, having conversations with God about it, and was finally a thoroughly convinced believer in the reconciliation/restoration of all. This was about 3 or 4 years ago now that the process started, so I have been a “convinced universalist” (Barclay) for 1.5 plus years now.

I have shared it with a few others, and found some level of acceptance to the message with some and much resistance in most. What I have learned is that you can’t argue anyone into it any more than you can argue them into being a Christian or believing in God. He MUST reveal it to them or they won’t see it. You can certainly be used as a tool or vessel, but it is ultimately God who must reveal Himself to those who do not yet know Him in this way.