Standing our ground and preaching good news only

I can see why there are Christians who resist universalism, the belief that God’s going to save everybody, because it could easily get people thinking they can do what they like and it won’t matter, or they won’t take God seriously if they don’t fear hell.

But hell and threats were never the tools God equipped us with to reach people in the first place. There was only one piece of equipment God gave us to work with, and that’s “setting forth the truth plainly,” 2 Corinthians 4:2. The truth being? Verse 4, “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ,” because in Christ we see the glory of God (verse 6). What people plainly need is the right picture of God as seen in Jesus Christ, because that’s the best way of stirring “every man’s conscience,” verse 2. 

So what is the right picture of God as seen in Jesus Christ? It’s that Christ “died for all,” 2 Corinthians 5:15, and from that point on God is “not counting men’s sins against them,” verse 19. That’s the good news we hit people with, not vivid pictures of hell or threats of eternal torment. Paul makes that clear when he asks the question in Romans 10:14, “How , then, can people call on the one they have not believed in?” – or why would people even bother turning to God at all? – and Paul’s answer in verse 15 is,  “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

In other words, stand our ground and preach nothing but good news because that’s God’s way of getting through to people. It’s no guarantee they’ll get it, just as Israel didn’t, verses 18-19, but it’s still our most powerful weapon in commending ourselves to people’s consciences, 2 Corinthians 4:2. Just tell them the good news of God’s glory as seen in what he’s already accomplished for all humanity in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit takes it from there.

We see how it works in Galatians 3:1. First of all, the beautiful feet of someone bringing good news strode into Galatia, and “Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified.” No talk of hell, but instead what Jesus did for all humanity by his death. Result? When the people believed what Jesus had done by his death, God then gave them “his Spirit,” verse 5, who then proceeded to “work miracles among you.” Preach the good news of God’s glory, as seen in Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit takes it from there.

It’s tempting to say God’s not going to save everybody to wake people up and urge them to make a decision, but that’s not the method God chose.

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