I Want to be Convinced that Christ Will Save ALL, but I Find Myself so Afraid…Help!
I am earnestly studying the idea that Jesus is the Savior of all, however, I often feel pressure not to believe and an overwhelming sense of fear, and that I’m not on God’s side or He isn’t on mine, at the prospect of believing—especially under the influence of those who refute it. I will link two pages of those who refute this idea and would appreciate your response to them:
I think I can definitely relate to that fear, “Am I on God’s side?” I honestly can’t begin to tell you the number of times that I’ve prayed, “God if I’m leading people astray (with this teaching) please kill me.” Three years ago I had a heart attack (I got a stint and I’m doing great), but I felt like God was saying, “Would you stop it with the kill me thing? Speak what I call you to speak and stop worrying, I can stop you if I want to.”
To be honest with you, I’m now more afraid of denying the fact that “God is Salvation” than I am confessing “God is Salvation.” The name Jesus literally means “God is Salvation.”
I think the people that say we must confess that God is not powerful enough to save, or that God doesn’t want to save all, are the people that have the most to fear. I’d suggest reading my article, “Where’s the Urgency?” to understand just how serious I am about this.
I would urge the person that produced the two web pages you had me look at to read the article because I’m genuinely concerned for their soul. Not that they could never be saved, but that they might face the outer darkness and the consuming fire before they come to rest in the salvation that was purchased for them on Calvary.
Having said that, fear is not where we are destined to live, and “perfect love casts out fear.” Fear is “the beginning of wisdom”, but Love is the end of fear. Satan’s weapon is fear; he keeps us in “lifelong bondage through the fear of death.” We fear the judgment of God and so run from His Judgment.
The place people hide from the Judgment of God is called Hades or Sheol. It is the outer darkness where people weep and gnash their teeth. The Judgment is the Light that has come into the world (John 3:19). The Light is Jesus and Jesus is the Truth. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
So, let me make a few suggestions:
1. You must wrestle the Truth, like Jacob at the Jabbok (Gen. 32), in order to receive the blessing. Although the Truth can be frightening, (The beginning of Wisdom is fear), the Truth is the Way to Life. The Truth is the Lord who has come to reign in your heart. I think this does not mean Truth is in some book somewhere; it means Truth is in your heart; Jesus, the Truth, is waiting to reign in your heart. In other words: Honesty is the Way. You can read more about that here: Is Peter a Heretic?
2. Hope in the right direction is what counts. Scripture claims that God desires that all men reach repentance. He says, “the first will be last and the last first.” I don’t think you can go wrong by hoping that the “last will be first” (who could be more “last” that a soul in Hell, however, you define that?) I don’t think you can go wrong by hoping that sinners reach repentance and that Jesus would actually seek and save the lost. I think this is the critical matter—that you wish, will, and hope in the direction of Grace.You say that you would like to be “convinced.” Well, I think that’s what really matters. How terrifying that some would not like to be convinced! They actually hope that “God is not Salvation” for some. Jesus said, “Whatever you do to the least of these, my brothers, you do to me.” By hoping that some wouldn’t be saved, aren’t they wishing Jesus, the Savior, to Hell (however they define that)?
Some will say, “But some of the last and least aren’t his brothers.” How do they know that these are not Jesus’ brothers? Have they judged? Jesus said, “Judge not that ye not be judged” and “With the judgment you pronounce you will be judged.” I think these are the most terrifying verses in Scripture. I wish Jesus—”God is Salvation”—for everyone, for I wish Jesus on me (Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I want Jesus to be my Judgment and everyone’s Judgment.
Many years ago, I said, “If wishing everyone were saved is a heresy, then it’s my favorite heresy, and God is obviously a heretic.” I found myself praying, “God you saved people like Saul of Tarsus. You saved Paul; why couldn’t you save all?”
I felt as if God was then asking me a question: ” Yes, Peter, I saved the chief of sinners, now why couldn’t I save all?” Over the years as I preached through Scripture, encountered Christ in prayer, and studied theology, I came to the point where I just had to say, “I don’t know why God couldn’t redeem, reconcile, and save all He has created.
There are numerous texts that say he will. And I’m a bit terrified to discover that many people don’t want Him to do what He wants to do.” What He wants to do, Love is who He is; He is Love. By wishing that God wouldn’t save, people wish that God was not God, which means that they don’t love God or worship Him in Spirit and Truth. If you don’t love Love, I suspect that Heaven will feel like Hell.
So, I’m just saying, it’s so good that you desire that all would be saved. And you don’t need to fear the Truth if you honestly wrestle the Truth. Jesus said, “Seek and you will find.” So, don’t panic; seek the Truth and know that the Truth is your Savior and Lord.
3. Seek! Seeking requires work. I looked at the websites and don’t even know where to begin, but I can tell you that it’s all very familiar. I think he’s just wrong in his exegesis of all sorts of biblical texts. I think he’s wrong in his understanding of “free-will” and determinism in Scripture. I think he likes to make assumptions and lump people together under scary words like “universalism.”
I don’t think he understands the theology of guys like Karl Barth and Baxter Kruger or their understanding of salvation, atonement etc. I don’t think he understands the biblical concept of the atonement; I think He thinks the cross is some sort of test presented to us to see if we can pass it, and therefore be saved . . . from God, which means that we save ourselves from God . . . when, in fact, Scripture testifies that God is saving us from ourselves.
I think he’s wrong, but to refute every point would require a book, and there are already plenty of books—some of which I will suggest below. Also, hopefully, the rest of this website can provide more resources regarding these questions.
Here are some resources on our website that might be particularly helpful with these kinds of questions:
“An Adventure in Taking Scripture Literally”
Sermons Addressing Verses That Seem To Contradict Relentless Love
Here are some books that might be helpful. (These would be my top recommendations for you):
Thomas Talbot, The Inescapable Love of God
Jan Bonda, The One Purpose of God
You can also find some other great books to explore on our “Books We Like” page.
After exploring these resources, if you find there are still sticking points regarding the websites you mentioned, feel free to submit questions in the Conversations box on our home page, and we’ll tackle them one by one.
I’m so glad that you’re willing to push into it. Jesus said there’s only one to fear. So fear God, seek the Truth, and I think you’ll find that God, who is the Truth, is better than anything you could imagine.
PS If you haven’t already seen this, give it a look: The Flaming Toilet of Death
PPS If when you honestly seek Truth, you suddenly encounter an overwhelming sense of fear, that’s not God your Father, that’s the devil. Do not fear the devil, only fear your Father in Heaven . . . and you will discover what Scripture clearly teaches: “God is Love.” Your Father is perfect Love, and “perfect Love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18).