Life or the Letter

By: Woodrow Lucas

Matthew 7:13

Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.

Matthew 7:14

But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. NIV

 

In Matthew 7:13 and 7:14 we see Jesus describing the prospects of humanity for finding life in this life or the after life.  He said that wide is the gate that leads to destruction and many go that way, and narrow is the way to life, and only a few souls find it.  It is important to note that in this pericope of scripture, Jesus is describing the fate of the unbeliever or unrepentant as destruction which is a much less horrific fate than the eternal hell that many believe await the unrepentant.  But this pericope of scripture is pretty clear, that the not that many people find eternal life and that eternal life is not something that is available to humanity writ large.  Now there are ways to Universalize this scripture, maybe by saying that Jesus is saying these things before he dies for all of our sins, and so post atonement everyone gets in.   Or perhaps you could do something creative with the Greek to redefine what Jesus means by only a “few” finding eternal life.  But for the most part this scripture suggests to me that there were at least times in Jesus’ life when he was not a Universalist and this scripture proves to me that there are verses in the Bible that support Universalism and verses that just out and out refute it.

 

In my opinion, while Universalism is the riddle of the Bible solved, if you read between the lines, the letter of scripture neither absolutely proves or disproves Universalism.  It is for this reason that I don’t base my Universalism on biblical writ, but rather the character of God.  I believe in a God of unconditional love and I believe that that God of unconditional love is going to save all because that God loves all and created all.  Whether the Bible substantiates that or not is immaterial to me.  The Bible suggests Universalism, but it doesn’t prove it.  Just like the Bible suggests Eternal Hell, but doesn’t prove that either.  The problem with the Bible is that suggests a lot of things, but if we are honest leaves us fractured and confused in the end about a lot of them.  That is why it takes faith, which the Bible describes as the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, to believe anything to the point that it becomes knowledge.  Paul said that the “letter of scripture killeth” and it is rather the spirit that brings life.

 

I believe about the Bible what the Bible says about itself that is God breathed, and that it is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, and for instruction in righteousness.  But I also believe that it was my obsessive allegiance to the Bible that helped to drive me insane when I was a young man.

 

In truth, the Bible helped to bring me to Universalism.   As I started to believe in Universalism, scriptures in the Bible just started to light up and it seemed like they were all pointing me to believe that God would save all.  But I do not still have that experience.  Now, almost every time I read the Bible I see something that seems to support eternal hell as much as it could possible support Universalism.  This is why I believe in Universalism based on my beliefs about God and Jesus, not the Bible.  Whether Jesus was a Universalist when he walked the earth or not, I believe that my risen Savior loves everyone so much that he is not going to stop until everyone makes it.  And whether Jesus was a Universalist when he walked the earth or not, I believe that it has always been the plan of God to reconcile all things, even Satan to light.  I mean it is just the nature of love.  Love may do many things but the balance of love redeems, restores, creates, and nurtures.  And so I believe that my God of love and his Son and the Holy Spirit have saved all and will save all, not because scripture says it, because scripture can be used to say anything if a person is creative enough, but because I believe that they love all of creation just so much that they are going to redeem it and all in it completely.  It is the character of God that moves me to Universalism. Yes I quote scripture all the time.  And I love scripture.  But I do not need scripture to support my faith in Universalism when it does not support it.  All I need is the revelation of the Holy Spirit and her constant reminders to me that I see, that I’m right, and God really is as good as I imagine him to be.

 

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