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The Refiner’s Fire Theory of Universalism Exposed Using The Bible

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Does everyone go to Heaven? For hundreds of years, there have been men who uphold the notion that the final destiny of all people is Heaven. This persuasion we call Universalism. Good Christians have contended with this belief for many decades. We do not believe everyone ends up in Heaven.

In theology, Universalism teaches the ultimate restoration of all sinners to happiness and favor of God on the ground that the final exclusion of any soul from heaven would be contrary to the boundless love of God. In short, it teaches salvation and life in Heaven is the fate of all sinners.

Those who subscribe to the teaching of Universalism are Universalists. Universalists believe and falsely teach that every person ultimately goes to Heaven. They say hell (i.e., the Lake of Fire) is a purifying fire that makes people suitable for Heaven. They even use the Bible to support their false teaching, and to provide false hope for unbelievers.

Universalists believe in a future time in the afterlife for a man to escape eternal damnation. In fact, they don’t even believe in eternal damnation! They teach that the torments of hell are temporary, and that salvation is possible for the dead in Hell. However, no teaching is more damaging than to mislead someone into thinking there is a time beyond the now to receive salvation through Christ.

2 Corinthians 6:2: …Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

God wills that all men everywhere repent now before it is too late (2 Pet. 3:9). A Universalist says a man in hell may come to repentance. If this is true, there is no need for Christ! The offering and sacrifice of Jesus is pointless if there is hope for those cast into hell.

The Lake of Fire

The theology of Universalism teaches that those in the Lake of Fire (hell) can repent and go to Heaven. They pretend that the Lake of Fire is a refining fire that purifies sinners. Two problems with this theory are 1) it voids the need for the day of salvation, and 2) it makes salvation possible in hell.

The Bible says in Ecclesiastes that there is a time for everything, which includes salvation (Eccl. 3:1). The Bible says, “Now is the day of salvation,” meaning now is the time to be saved. Salvation is only possible in this lifetime. Scripture as a whole never comes close to suggesting that there is hope in the Lake of Fire.

Revelation 20:11-15: ¶And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away, and there was found no place for them.  12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life, and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.  13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hell delivered up the dead which were in them, and they were judged every man according to their works.  14 And death and Hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.  15 And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

The Lake of Fire is the final judgment for sinners. It’s a place of damnation. It’s the final death from which no one returns. We should distinguish it from the refiner’s fire.

Is the Lake of Fire the refiner’s fire?

Advocates of Universalism must teach that the Lake of Fire is a refiner’s fire to support their false teaching, because Scripture clearly says men go there. However, nowhere in the Bible is the Lake of Fire mentioned as a refining fire; in fact, the refiner’s fire is only found twice in the whole Bible! We see it only in the book of Malachi. Malachi uses it as a reference to Christ or John the Baptist, but it is definitely not the Lake of Fire.

Malachi 3:2-3: But who may abide the day of his coming? And who shall stand when he appeareth? For he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness.

Jesus Christ purifies us through judgment in His presence by fire (1 Cor. 3:12-15). There is punishment for Believers who know His will but don’t obey (Heb. 10:26-31). However, Christ does not punish us by sending Christians to the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire torments people forever; it doesn’t save anyone. The doctrine of Universalism teaches otherwise.

There are some notable characteristics of the Lake of Fire that prove no one is freed from it over time.

Characteristics of the Lake of Fire…

  • It’s a place of everlasting contempt (Dan. 12:2).
  • It’s a place of everlasting punishment (Matt 25:41, 46).
  • It’s a place of unquenchable fire (Mar. 9:43, 45).
  • It’s a place of damnation (Jn. 5:29).
  • It’s a place of everlasting destruction (2 Thess. 1:9).
  • It’s a place for disobedient & evil people (Rev. 21:8).
  • It’s a place for people currently in Hell (Rev. 20:14-15).

The Lake of Fire is not and will never be a purifying fire. The doctrine of Universalism says that fire can remove sin so a person may get out and go to Heaven. The Word of God says that only the blood of Jesus can wash away sin.

Hebrews 9:27-28: And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:  28 So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Universalists make light of the sacrifice of Christ. He sacrificed His own self to put away sin. He purges us by His blood, and not by the torments of hell.

Universalism teaches men are justified by hell!

Ultimately, people are condemned to hell for not believing in Christ (Jn. 3:16-19). When the condemned stand before God on judgment day, they will be punished with an everlasting punishment. Only the justified will receive eternal life in Heaven. Universalism deceives people into thinking everyone goes to Heaven eventually. Their doctrine contradicts true justification.

Justification is “remission of sin and absolution from guilt and punishment; or an act of free grace by which God pardons the sinner and accepts him as righteous, on account of the atonement of Christ.” (Webster’s Dictionary of American English, 1828)

Men who are justified to God are free from condemnation. They are officially and legally allowed to go to Heaven free from any sin charges. Through faith in Christ, God looks at us as righteous and guilt free. Sending someone to hell does not produce righteousness. The Bible says in Romans 10, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.”

Justification is by faith. Men who seek justification any other way are fallen from grace, and Christ has no effect on them (Gal. 5:4). In order to submit to the doctrine of Universalism, you must believe hell has the power to justify.

Misunderstood Scriptures

There are many misunderstood Scriptures that Universalists use to support their doctrine of Universalism.

#1

Philippians 2:9-11: Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

A Universalist interprets this passage to say salvation is provided in the afterlife. The Bible does say: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” in Romans. The difference is in the confession. Verse eleven in Philippians says confess that Jesus is Lord, while Romans says if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus. The former promotes lordship salvation, and the latter promotes grace based salvation.

Romans deals with people entering salvation, and Philippians deals with people who are already saved; even if Philippians is applicable to unbelievers, unbelievers are still sentenced to hell.

#2

Romans 5:19: For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

This Scripture has given me problems in the past, because it seems to teach that all men are made righteous. The problem is if all men are made righteous then no one would go to hell, and believing in Christ would be merely for greater rewards in the afterlife. However, this is not the case.

Jesus is recorded in three Gospels saying, “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” which indicates that a righteous person without Christ does not need Christ. This type of person lives by their own self-righteousness. While they are in truth sinners, they are not made sinners, and until they are made sinners, they cannot see the need for salvation.

There is another type of righteous person: a sinner who is justified. A man who sees himself as a sinner is a candidate for salvation. He sees his only hope of salvation in Christ; therefore, he should believe in Him with all his heart for salvation.

This hard verse in Romans does not teach that everyone is automatically an involuntarily made righteous.

#3

John 1:29: ¶ The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John the Baptist prophesied that Jesus was the Lamb of God who takes away sin; in fact, he said, “The sin of the world.” This is a major point where those who believe in Universalism dwell.

It is true the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ) does take away the sin of the world, because there is no other sacrifice that can take away our sin. He doesn’t take away all sin though, because people who blaspheme the Holy Ghost never have forgiveness (Matt. 12:31-32; Mar. 3:28-29; Lu. 12:10).

Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sin, and the sin of the world (1 Jn. 2:2). However, no one is justified by Him apart from faith. And He didn’t eradicate sin; we still have the capability to sin, but we are justified by the blood of Christ our Advocate. Therefore, God does not look at us as sinners, but as the Saints of God.

The Bible declares that salvation is by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Therefore, if all the sin of the world is taken away, men are still condemned until they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, because as you saw, a person must believe in the resurrection of Christ with all his heart to become righteous and receive the promise of salvation. This does not happen in hell.

Conclusion

Universalists adhering to their theories of Universalism are obviously wrong. These mouths must be stopped, because they are subverting houses. There is no hope in hell, and the people who go there never get out. God does love and want all men to believe in His Son, but those who do not are condemned.

The Bible does not support Universalism, and to make it do so is evil. Some men have good intentions, but it’s wicked as hell to teach that there is salvation in the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is not a refiner’s fire; it’s eternal torment.

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