The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Please help me out here

I just want to be clear on the process of salvation.
Firstly for those who put their trust in Christ before death:

For ECTers:
Upon ‘conversion’ we gain a free ticket to heaven. Upon death (perhaps after soul-sleep which is another topic), without any more requirements from ourselves, in an instant, our sanctification is completed and we are instantly glorified.

For those who believe in UR…what? The same as above? or something different?

Hi Pilgrim,

You wrote:

As I understand Scripture, it’s something different. I don’t think anyone gains a “free ticket to heaven” by exercising faith in Christ before they die, nor do I think anyone forfeits going to heaven (or going to heaven first) by their unbelief. I don’t think our post-mortem destiny in any way hinges on something we do or don’t do before we die. When a person believes the gospel they are reconciled to God (Rom 5:10; 2 Cor 5:18-19) and inherit “the life of the age” or “age enduring life,” which is the enjoyment of a new covenant relationship with God and his Son (John 17:3; Heb 8:10-12) during the age of the Messianic reign. As long as they live (and are abiding in Christ), believers enjoy righteousness, joy, peace and “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places” (Eph 1:3), and undergo a process of glorification in which they are progressively conformed to the image of Christ (2 Cor 3:18; Rom 8:29). At death (which Paul calls the “last enemy”) our enjoyment of these spiritual blessings (as well as the process of glorification) is, I believe, interrupted, and we “sleep” until what Christ called the “last day” (John 6:39), when he returns from heaven to destroy death and subject all people to himself (1 Cor 15:22-28). At this time I believe both those who died in faith as well as those who didn’t will be raised immortal to a glorious and sinless existence. Christ will then deliver the kingdom back to God so that God may be “all in all!”

Hi Aaron and thanks.
From what you’ve said, I can’t quite work out if you’re saying that the millennial reign is only for those who happen to remain alive at its commencement.
It seems you’re saying that absolutely everybody who died will sleep and then be raised perfected and ready for heaven?

Well, my understanding is that the “1000 years” of Rev 20 is figurative and refers to the avenging and vindication of those saints martyred under the “beast” (The “Thousand Years” of Revelation 20).

I do think there is a Messianic kingdom/reign, however. I just think the age of the Messianic reign commenced when Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D., and will continue until the dead are raised at some future time. All who believe the gospel become subjects of the kingdom of God under Christ and enjoy the “life of the age” for as long as they live.

That’s correct; I believe that the instantaneous “change” which all people (both living and dead) will undergo when Christ returns from heaven and gives the command (1 Cor 15:51-57; 1 Thess 4:13-18) will make every person who ever lived a sinless, immortal subject of God’s kingdom.

Thanks for your cut on things Aaron.
Does this mean there is no post-mortem corrective process? I believe that some see Hell as just that, but I take it that you do not?
How do you interpret the verses which allude to Hades and Gehenna?

God bless

I don’t see the above as incompatible with UR and I’m sure that some URers see it that way. However, personally I’ve always (even when I was an ECTer :blush: ) struggled to see how sanctification can be instantaneous and without participation of the individual. Although I know there are some verses that seem to suggest it :confused:

I suspect there is a post-mortem corrective process, but am quite unsure about this.

A lot of Christians believe in purgatory. If hell is a refining/purging fire, then they both could be the same place.

Hi Pilgrim,

That’s correct. I believe that when the “last enemy” (death) is “swallowed up in victory,” the “sting of death” (which is sin) will be absent. Thus, we will have no need for any post-mortem corrective process.

I understand “Hades” to have been used by the NT authors as the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew “Sheol” (which I believe denotes the grave) and see the story of Lazarus and the rich man as a parable, the content of which was drawn from Jewish beliefs that developed during the intertestamental period, and which were likely held by the Pharisees in Jesus’ day.

I believe Gehenna (Hinnom Valley) refers to the literal valley south of Jerusalem where the bodies of those Jews slain during the siege of Jerusalem were cast.

Hi Aaron
I really appreciate your sharing with me. Thank you. I hope you’ll understand that your interpretation is so different to my background that it will take a lot of time and thought on my part, and perhaps more questions so I hope you can bear with me. Thanks for those links.
It seems then, that for you, the purpose to evangelise is purely the benefits that are to be had in this present life?:

If this is the case, then I think that I must not be ‘abiding in Christ’. My view of the christian walk is that it is more difficult and painful than the non-believers path.
Dying-daily is not pleasant. Being conscious of the weight of sin, taking up our cross, the process of sanctification is painful. All these things lead me to believe that a true believers present life is harder than the non-believers. I’m not saying it’s not worth it, but the role is not one that would aid evangelisation. Do you see any merit in what I am saying?

Secondly how, in your interpretation, does the separation of sheep and goats fit in?


Hi Alex.
Thanks for responding.

It may be, that like me, you are not too sure about what happens when this life is over a) for the believer, and b) for the unbeliever, and what the differences are (if any) or how significant those differences are.
When I was ECTer, I was taught that post-mortem, sanctification and glorification would be instant and that accomplishment was because of Christ’s victory on the cross.
Now it seems UR may shed doubts on that idea. So perhaps UR makes Christ’s victory smaller in that way? It seems that (at least for whoever is willing to believe) the ECTers have a more victorious cross?

Either way, I don’t think I’m in a position to share the Gospel until I get these things sorted and I find that very sad.

God bless you and thanks for sharing. Any more thoughts would be most welcome.

Hi Pilgrim,

Evil is like cancer. It’s grows in us, it’s made from us, but it’s not really us. I also think salvation is like chemotherapy. God is the great physician who will heal us all in the end, but for God’s sake (and your own) it’s best to begin the treatment sooner rather than later. It’s better to hop into heaven on one leg than to leap into hell with both.

Hi Allan
Can’t disagree with any of that, but I can’t see that you’ve addressed my OP. What I want to know is what you believe happens after death a) for those who have received Christ in this life (eg is there any corrective work still to be done or are we all zapped instantaneously to perfect sanctification)
and b) for those who have not


I think the removal of our spiritual tumors will be slow and painful, whenever it happens. The cancer has interwoven deeply and intimately with our true self. If it is painful only in this life to carry our cross (drink the medicine), why would anyone bother? It would be much more sensible to wait for death, if that is indeed where evil drops off in one effortless flash.

It reminds me of Jesus parable of the unworthy servants. When the master suddenly returns and finds them drunk and abusive, they are punished for their efforts. The servants who are faithfully about the master’s business are rewarded.

Hi Pilgrim,

I’ve been slow to respond to this, because I guess I haven’t yet come to much of a settled opinion on the issue. I find since coming to believe UR, that my former fascination with the details of what happens next … well … it just doesn’t fascinate me so much anymore. :sunglasses:

I do not believe in instant sanctification.
I believe there will be judgment based on how we lived this life.
I believe there will be reward and punishment.
I believe the work of reconciliation will continue.
I think the next age will be very different from this one–maybe more different than we can currently imagine.
I think this life is somehow a preparation for the next–in ways we can’t understand right now.

Not much of a contribution, is it? :laughing: That’s all I’m comfortable saying right now.

There is a local radio preacher here predicting the End and the beginning of Judgment on May 21, beginning at sundown in New Zealand with a gigantic earthquake. Maybe he knows something. :wink: :mrgreen:


Hi AllanS
thanks for that response. I’m much more clear about your belief now.


On the contrary, I’m very grateful for your contribution. I wonder how many here ARE clear about the here-after.

Perhaps I can try to explain why I find this topic important.
Although UR has given me more love for humanity, I find it difficult to witness if I do not have firm beliefs or doubt where I stand.

As far as I can see, the ONLY difference in EU and ECT is belief about the here-after.

Surely, if we’re going to be effective in our witnessing and our enthusiasm for EU, we need to have clear understanding about the here-after.
If I still need correction post-mortem then it can legitimately be said that ECT gave a greater victory to Christ’s work on the cross (for the believer) than EU does.

I think I may be having a minor crisis on this one. I can’t see myself going back to ECT, and yet EU just seems to be a muddle to me at the moment.


I begin to understand what you’re trying to get at.

My world view has undergone a lot of changes over the past 6 years of beginning to think in UR terms and wrestling with the implications. I do need to work out better how to put into words what I’ve come to believe at a more intuitive level. I see much more difference between UR and ECT than just the afterlife.

I no longer see “salvation” as having entirely to do with determining one’s residential location in the afterlife. Christ’s death accomplishes the reconciliation of all things, making peace with His shed blood, and through His resurrected life we will be saved. (Rom 5) Both steps – the reconciliation and the salvation – are progressive events which unfold over time. Like it says: “all things have been subjected to Him, but we do not yet see the all things subjected” (Heb 2:8) and “…who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Tim 2). These things begin now and continue forward [albeit under different conditions] into the ages to come.

It is through the offering of Christ–giving Himself in love–that all people will be reconciled to God. That reconciliation is like the prodigal son’s return home. He’s not going to suddenly be the perfect son without any flaw–but His father’s warm welcome will probably make him really want to try, and that will be the beginning of his growing into a true son of the Father.

Some of us are born into the next age as part of a priesthood – like the tribe of Levi – dedicated from the womb for the special work of “reigning with Christ,” being “pillars in the Temple,” “shining forth as the stars of the heavens,” “vessels of honor prepared for every good work.” And it is this life we are in now which prepares us for the honor of serving in the kingdom in the next life. The next life will not be a perfect holiday, but a greater and more glorious work.

We are not “saved” to assure ourselves a place at the banquet table, but to join with Him in His work – taking up our cross – to help bring in the kingdom. “Thy kingdom come: Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven.” Both now and in the age to come.

That’s very imperfectly expressed, but maybe it will help you understand a little how I see things.

I hope my 2 cents worth have some currency…

I find this statement baffling. I just can’t reconcile this with the need for the millions of people murdered in the world (Hitler ad the Jews is the standard example) to have some closure. Who need to know that their suffering was not “irrelevant”. Who need to know that when they were hungry, beaten, tortured, burned, etc etc etc, that there was indeed a God, and that God was deeply concerned about their predicament. So concerned, that he will ensure that every wrong will be righted. How he does this I have no clue. But surely God will do this. We say “lest we forget” about fallen “war heroes”. Surely God will not forget??? Will Hitler not need to “make amends”? *

This I can relate to. I’m a newbie when it comes to EU; sometimes I feel like I have it all figured out; other times I wonder if I know anything. At present, if the subject comes up, I’m simply telling it as I see it, which is that God loves everyone too much to leave them the way they are.

In one recent conversation-over-a-number-of-days, the person said “So basically you’re saying that there will be a purgatory?” And I said “I don’t know, but I think there’ll be something like that.” And I talked about how gold and silver are purified by fire, and maybe that’s what God will do to us to cleanse and purify us from evil. Perhaps it’ll take multiple ages for someone like Hitler. Perhaps Hitler will be quick, and it’ll take multiple ages for me. (I’m not saying that as a joke; sometimes I think it might be true).

But one easily-seen effect of my belief in UR has been that I no longer worry about “whether the person accepts the message”. I am serenely content to know that I said what I thought was the right thing at the time, and God has all the power in the world to cause the person to continue pondering and thinking and grappling. It’s not my problem anymore! By that I mean, God has sent me to be his ambassador. That means, that I just need to be obedient to this but I don’t need to worry about my so-called success rate. God will be happy with me for obeying, regardless of the “results”. [Much the same as I would be happy with the obedience of my children, regardless of any “results”]

No! To me, a massive difference is in your view of God.

Is God a tyrant worse than the worst human tyrant, who sets people up with the propensity to sin and then punishes them for doing so, and not only that, but punishes them without any hope of escape for all eternity, and not only that, but does it while the person is fully conscious and can feel and receive pain, both physical and mental? Is that what God is like? Is he really an infinite version of the most horrendous human tyrant?

Or is God like the best father you can imagine? The father who always wills the best for his kids, who always does everything in his power to help his kids, who rejoices in his kids, who loves their presence, who says corny things on father’s days like “I don’t want any presents; just your presence”, who will always come and rescue you when you’re in trouble (like my dad did in the middle of the night when my car broke down), who will punish you if the crime warrants it but only for as long as is necessary and only to bring about restoration and “learning from the mistake”, and finally, if you do happen to go astray, will wait on the front porch every day until you come to your senses and return to him, and when that day comes, will run to you with weeping, not to beat you with sticks, but to welcome you home?

Which God is it??? This, to me, is the most profound difference in EU and ECT.

Yes and no. No, because of my response above about speaking what you know is true and not worrying so much about what you don’t yet know. Yes, because it’s important, I believe, to have as good a grasp on important things as we can.

Not at all. If I still need correction post-mortem, then it means that God loves even me too much to leave me the way I am. (You can tell I haven’t yet worked out whether I, as a Christian, will need correction yet).

Don’t go back. EU just seems to be a muddle; it’s not, really. EU provides so many “tie-ins” for things that always bothered me, like 1 Tim 4:10 explaining how God could be saving some more than others, and like realising that Rom 11:32 meant what it said, that God would have mercy on all, and that therefore, his vessels of wrath was not permanent.

I’ve rambled enough now…*

Thanks for having a go rline.

So, if I’m reading you right, you make absolutely no distinction between believers and non-believers?

Firstly, I have to agree with you that EU has made a substantial difference to my view of God though perhaps not as much as for you. I suppose I should have said, that the major circumstantial difference is re the here-after.
Let me explain a little: I was an Arminianist. My view of God was that He Loved everyone to the utmost and did/does everything in His power to save all mankind (no change). But His power was limited by giving humans free will and that eternal Hell is the unalterable consequence of continual rejection (ie that upon death the unrepentant human inevitably enters a state where he blames God and sees God as the enemy fully reliant on his own strength to save himself ie eternal hell).
So it can be argued that the nature of God is the same but the nature of reality is different.
Which view is true can only be determined by divine revelation.

I’ve bolded the type of approach which kept me a ECTer for so long.

This is the first statement I can’t follow and I’ll try to explain another reason why my questions are so important to me:
What was Christ’s finished work on the cross and what should I be thanking Him for on a daily basis?
As a ECTer, He washed away my sin -past present and future, I am a new creation, the old man is dead and when I get my glorified body I will be perfected. So in a very real way I am perfected now if it were not for this wretched ‘sin-body’ which weighs me down and gets me in trouble. All I need is to be rid of this carnal fleshly body. Jesus has sorted everything else out right now. It’s all done!

As a EUer, my character (my real-self) still needs a lot of work. God will provide the trials but I must painfully learn, painfully make the correct choices both in this life and the next.

Either way its all down to God or we enter into a ‘salvation by works’ theology. So either way I must not take any credit, I must not suggest the ECTers idea is the easy option or I fall into this trap. But clearly the work on the cross is more powerful for the ECTer (believers only of course).

I won’t go back. The danger is I’ll just give up completely thinking 'it’s all a muddle and nobody really knows so what’s the point. (Perhaps this is always the way for those who turn to UR).

Yes. I still believe that EU has less logical inconsistencies .

Not at all. I really appreciate your thoughts.

I am shocked that the only person who seems to have a clear view is Aaron and that nobody else seems to have a confident alternative (I hope I’ve not misread the situation)

God bless you and thanks.

Further thoughts from anyone would be most welcome. PLEASE!

Now I feel like the kid who got picked last in the sports teams :wink:

Please see my line in that same post: “You can tell I haven’t yet worked out whether I, as a Christian, will need correction yet”. And, yes, of course I do. Believers are the “especially” in 1 Tim 4:10. I think that believers are those who have opportunity to live the abundant life for which God made them. There’s a whole lot of other stuff, but that’s one thing.

As I see it, for taking away my sin. That is, after all, what he came to do. It also links in with post-mortem correction. Christ’s work is indeed finished, but not yet appropriated by all.

Huh? Are you implying that as a ECTer, your character didn’t need a lot of work? That’s what it appears to say.

It must be late because I don’t see why you’d say this.

Is that all you’re after? A clear view? What if the view is wrong? (Note: I’m not saying it is wrong!!)

It might be worth remembering that it is the Easter weekend. Many people on the forums might be on holidays, or just away, or just not logging on over the weekend. Who knows?

For myself, the reason I haven’t replied with a clear view is because I’m a newbie to EU. I have many competing things for my time and sorting out my thoughts and beliefs into some kind of consistent theological framework is on my to-do list. But being the OCD-type, I know that when I start I’ll need to keep going until I’m finished. I’m not ready to do that yet. :slight_smile:

I note that you didn’t raise anything about my thoughts on post-mortem corrective processes, and my disagreement with what Aaron originally said. Speaking for myself, again, I would say that a system that effectively “sweeps evil under the carpet”, which is what Aaron’s view does, sounds very suspect.

Hmmm. Of course, his view may well be spot on. I could be very wrong indeed! I too would encourage others to post their money’s worth.

No. That was me.

Yes I read that. But still no mention of any difference in the here-after and that’s what this thread is about.

Is a character failing a sin? Sinless but still with defects. I suppose this is one of the areas I can’t get my head around.

For the believer? Why did the ECTers not see this? They would not have had to embrace UR to see this.


Good point. I have many character flaws. All I know is that under ECT theology I’ve never known a church that suggested we needed corrective work post mortem. That’s my point. Upon death we are instantly perfected in every way. If you knew of an ECT church that preached correction for the believer post mortem then I’m interested. If not, then surely you can see my point that the ECT cross-work has accomplishes more than the EU (for the believer of course).

I’ll drop it.

I’m not sure why you would say that. We all want the truth as clearly as we can understand.
For EU to be credible to ECTers it is not unreasonable for there to be a certain level of clarity on the questions I have raised. The ECTers are quite clear.

I appreciate your input rline and your logic gives me food for thought. Thank you.

I am waiting for another answer from Aaron. At the moment I am inclined to believe that there is no correction process for the believer (ie that we will be instantaneously sanctified and glorified). I think this will leave some with more gifts than others because they have acquired these gifts during their life experiences. I am inclined to believe that the Lake of Fire is to bring non-believers to the point of surrender at the foot of the cross.
Having said that, I really haven’t the faintest idea - hence the thread.

Yes. Me too.

Hi pilgrim:

not ignoring you – just that this is an incredibly important and huge! question…
I would like to try my hand at an answer (many of us here write as a way of discovering ourselves and our understandings; that is, we see ourselves as works in progress – not regurgitaters of of settled dogma) but first let me give you a reading assignment. I’ve mentioned it often here because I think it does such a great job of summing up how UR can and should impact us and our lives and our witnesses. (and no, it doesn’t have much to do with an exact timeline of salvation… which your question implies that you’d really like to have!)

Here it is… this is “our own” GM

How Universalism Has Impacted my Life

Below is the paragraph that I can not read often enough…

Blessings pilgrim and more later

In conclusion, let me ask you to hold in your mind traditional Christian visions
of the future, in which many, perhaps the majority of humanity, are excluded
from salvation forever. Alongside that hold the universalist vision, in which
God achieves his loving purpose of redeeming the whole creation. Which vision
has the strongest view of divine love? Which story has the most powerful
narrative of God’s victory over evil? Which picture lifts the atoning efficacy
of the cross of Christ to the greatest heights? Which perspective best
emphasizes the triumph of grace over sin? Which view most inspires worship and
love of God bringing him honor and glory? Which has the most satisfactory
understanding of divine wrath? Which narrative inspires hope in the human
spirit? To my mind the answer to all these questions is clear, and that is why I
am a Christian universalist.